Three premiership players could return to Richmond’s line-up to face St Kilda next week, but coach Damien Hardwick insists superstar Dustin Martin will be given as much time as he needs away from the club.

Despite missing an array of first-choice players on Sunday, the Tigers were too strong for a disappointing Giants outfit at the MCG, increasing their lead at every quarter break to eventually run out 36-point winners.

Star trio Jack Riewoldt (thumb), Dylan Grimes (soreness) and Dion Prestia (hamstring) were all unavailable on Sunday, but Hardwick hinted post-game all three would push their respective cases this week to face the Saints on Sunday.

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But Hardwick remained uncertain about the status and availability of Martin, who missed Sunday’s win over the Giants after taking personal leave away from the club last week.

After a debilitating kidney injury ended his 2021 season prematurely, Martin endured a difficult off-season away from footy after the death of his father Shane at the age of 54.

Hardwick said he and the club had “no clarity” on a return time frame for Martin, but stressed the Tigers would be guided by the triple Norm Smith medallist.

Richmond Tigers press conference | 10:23

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

“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.”

Hardwick suggested it could be a tough week for Richmond’s match committee.

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He said Grimes would face the Saints, while both Riewoldt and Prestia were “a chance” to return.

But if the latter two are ultimately deemed not ready to play, Hardwick said he’d be pleased to have a similar line-up to the one that beat the Giants.

“I was really pleased with the players we had in the side at the moment so there is going to be some hungry players and those boys have got to understand they have played well.

Damien Hardwick had high praise for Marlion Pickett. Picture: Michael KleinSource: News Corp Australia

“It is tough to make changes. We will squeeze them in but there will be some unlucky players along the way.”

Hardwick said he was thrilled to see his side’s trademark pressure and “step-in mentality” return against the Giants, which he said was personified by a spoil from Marlion Pickett on Harry Himmelberg.

“That’s Richmond footy, that’s what we love. We’re not a kicks, marks, handball side, we just want to reward those behaviours,” Hardwick said.

“It’s the identity we speak about and the players should be under no illusions that’s when we play our best footy, that’s the sort of style of game we get.”



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