Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has given Dustin Martin his blessing if the Tigers superstar wants to leave the Melbourne AFL fishbowl.
The three-time Norm Smith medallist is two games back from his six-week break from the AFL due to personal reasons.
Martin took a leave of absence from Richmond after the Tigers’ round-one loss against Carlton as he continues to grieve the death of his father last December.
Rumours have floated around about the 30-year-old wanting to live a more private life outside an AFL-obsessed state and move to Sydney.
Hardwick on Tuesday addressed the possibility of Martin finishing his illustrious 263-game career away from Punt Rd.
“He’s a very important player to our footy club, on the field and off the field,” Hardwick said ahead of Richmond’s Dreamtime at the ‘G blockbuster.
“What he gives us, he’s paid us in spades.
“Whatever Dustin’s decision is moving forward is up to Dustin and to be honest he has my blessing.
“What he’s given me, us, our fans, he has been incredible and whatever we get from here on in is a bonus.
“I’m just lucky I get to see him on a weekly basis perform and train the way he does.
“He was a bit sore last week, he’d never put up his hand and say he was a little bit underdone.
“He’s a required Richmond player and a very important Richmond player.”
Hardwick hailed Martin’s influence in victories over Collingwood and Hawthorn as the Brownlow medallist played mainly as a forward.
“The way this guy prepares physically and mentally is first-class, it’s what the great ones do,” Hardwick said.
“There’s no coincidence the work he puts in gets rewarded with his on-field performances.
“Even after (Tuesday’s training) session, he’s doing extra running because that’s the sort of performer he is.
“We use him as an example for our young blokes, ‘listen you want to reach that level, first of all good luck but this is how you go about it’.”
Martin was drafted by Richmond in 2009 and has become one of the club’s all-time greats in spearheading the Tigers to premierships in 2017, 2019 and 2020.