Richmond’s Dustin Martin is “considering his future in the game” according to a leading journalist, with coach Damien Hardwick saying the superstar is “taking his time to figure out what he needs to move forward”.

The triple Norm Smith medallist took a mental health break away from footy last week. He did not play against GWS on Sunday and is dealing with personal issues including the death of his father Shane last December.

Tigers coach Hardwick said after the Round 2 win over the Giants the club has “no clarity” over when Martin will return.

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“Dusty the man is far more important than Dusty the footballer, and they’ll give him all the time he needs,” Melbourne great Garry Lyon said on Fox Footy’s On the Couch.

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Speaking on Fox Footy’s AFL 360, Hardwick was asked if Martin was considering stepping away from the game.

“I think Dustin’s taking his time to figure out what he needs to move forward,” Hardwick said.

“And as we’ve spoken about, he’s had a really tough six months, none tougher than what he’s had to deal with, first with the injury and then with the loss of his father. He just needs some time to heal.

“Grief is really like an injury, there’s no two ways about it, you have to get some treatment to make yourself heal, and he’s just taking the time to do that.

“His father was incredibly close to him, obviously from a parent point of view, but also his best mate so it was going to take some time, and we’re prepared to give him that. He’s such an important part of the fabric of our football club. We miss him, but not on the footy field, just in the club.”

Dustin Martin is taking his time to figure out what he needs going forward, says Damien Hardwick. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Martin, who has played a mammoth 261 games since his debut in 2010, is no sure thing to return to the footy field according to McClure.

“He’s considering his future in the game, I don’t think it’s overdramatic to say,” he said on 3AW’s Sportsday.

“You can read between the lines of what the club has been saying, with Damien Hardwick yesterday. Dustin has really been struggling and you can understand that, with the injury he went through, with losing his father who was in another country.

“He’s climbed the premiership mountain, Norm Smith medal a few times, he’s lost enjoyment in the game. I think all the people around him are just trying to give him the time he needs to not make a rash decision when his heart is broken.”

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McClure added: “The people you speak to say since the death of his father, he has been a different person around his love for footy.

“He’s been less smiling at training, less vivacious because he’s such a big personality inside the four walls of Richmond, we know he’s shy with the media, but he just hasn’t been that.

“It’s great for him that he’s recognised that and he’s got great people around him, and he’s got a great footy club as well.”

On Sunday Hardwick said they would let Martin work through his issues, and he has already “repaid this club 10 times over”.

“Dustin Martin is a wonderful player, do we want to see him playing? Yeah,” Hardwick said.

“But also it is what it is. It is a personal issue and we leave it at it. Dustin has repaid this club 10 times over.

“We’ve got no clarity (on when he could return). It is a personal issue and we leave it at that and work our way through it.”

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In late 2019, Richmond saw legendary defender Alex Rance unexpectedly retire at the age of 30, but won the ensuing premiership without him.

Martin is a triple premiership player, a four-time All-Australian and won the 2017 Brownlow Medal.



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