Damien Hardwick ‘a bit upset’ by criticism of Dustin Martin after star’s return from Richmond

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has defended Dustin Martin after returning star Tiger was criticized for failing to do media interviews following last weekend’s win over Collingwood.

Martin played his first game back after a six-week absence due to personal reasons.

Speaking to Saturday Morning Sport on ABC Radio Melbourne, Hardwick said Martin has never felt comfortable in a media environment and was disappointed with some of the criticism.

“I was probably a little mad at a few people who were making it more about them and less about Dustin,” Hardwick said.

“He’s just great at what he does, but that doesn’t mean his brilliance turns into a media artist. And he doesn’t feel comfortable in that space, he doesn’t feel comfortable sharing his life story.

“He’s not really interested in providing a running commentary on his life and what it looks and feels like to be Dustin Martin. He’s not.

“It’s not arrogance, it’s just a feeling that he likes to be his own man. He’s very isolated, he doesn’t let many people in.”

Martin scored two goals against the Magpies last week in a solid return to action, and Hardwick said the three-time Norm Smith medalist is more than enough for the game with his play alone.

A large group of players from Richmond gather around Dustin Martin to congratulate him
Martin’s teammates celebrate with him after his first goal back.Getty Images: Quinn Rooney

“At what stage do we say ‘this man has provided two and a half hours of entertainment, he actually lost a kidney last year. He gives a lot to this man’.”

And don’t get me wrong, he gets paid a lot for what he does, but he provides an incredible service by the people who pay their money to see Dustin Martin for two and a half hours of brilliance.

“At what stage is that enough? Do we really need two questions to sit there and deliver the icing on the cake? Or are we just happy for Dustin to do what he does and provide the brilliance he does weekly? “

Richmond are going into the top eight in the ninth round against Hawthorn and in better form, and Hardwick said the return of their talisman gave the whole club a timely boost.

Dustin Martin purses his lips and sticks out his tongue while running during a training session
Martin unexpectedly returned to training in Richmond two weeks ago.AAP: Joel Carrett

“It was incredibly important to have him back last week and it gave our whole club a boost,” he said.

“He still has his good and bad days, but just being there to play his game was huge.

“You could see when he kicked that goal, every player on the ground got a hold of him. All our coaching staff also had a little foggy eyes in the coaching area.

“It’s great to see players come back from adversity, but it’s just great to see the fans applauding such a player too. It was a very touching moment, not only for Richmond, but also for the AFL.”

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