Dustin Martin a ‘strong possibility’ to return to Richmond’s line-up in round eight

Richmond has resisted the urge to rush Dustin Martin back into its line-up, with the 2017 Brownlow Medallist expected to return in round eight against Collingwood.

After an extended period away from the club on personal leave, Martin returned to Punt Road last week, putting to rest rumours that he could prematurely retire from the game at just 30 years of age.

Martin’s return has energised the Tigers, who currently sit 12th on the ladder with a 2-4 record after six completed rounds, with a match-up against the struggling West Coast Eagles in Perth on the horizon.

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Despite Martin enjoying a solid week on the training track, Richmond coach Damien Hardwick wasn’t prepared to bring his star man back right away, even with ex-skipper Trent Cotchin rested.

“Our fans are dying for him to play and it was amazing the energy he brought just being around the place,” Hardwick said ahead of the Tigers’ meeting with the Eagles.

“We’d probably be doing us and him a disservice if we put him out there without the preparation he needs.

“(He is) an important player and to be honest, half a Dustin Martin is probably going to be better than a vast majority of AFL players but we just want to make sure when we get him back he’s ready to go, there’s a strong possibility it’ll be the Collingwood game.”

Despite being cautious with Martin’s return, Hardwick admitted that the three-time Norm Smith Medallist would not be running around in Richmond’s VFL side to get some match practice, joking that Martin “wouldn’t even know what that is”.

After Martin’s long-time teammate Jack Riewoldt admitted that the midfield star had returned in good spirits, Hardwick also touched on Martin’s mental space since his time away.

“He’ll have his good and his bad days like most people going through that situation,” he said.

“At this stage it’s more good than bad so we just continue to encourage and support and put an arm around him when we need to, but look he’s in a lot better space than he has been which is a real positive for us and I think the footy world in general.”

Martin has played 261 games for the Tigers after being selected with the No.3 pick in the 2009 draft. He is currently signed through to the end of the 2024 season.

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