It happens to the best of them!
Coach Damien Hardwick has stressed Richmond must play better as a team rather than rely on AFL superstar Dustin Martin to play at an incredible level each week.
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick says the Tigers can’t rely on out-of-sorts star Dustin Martin to perform at an incredible level each week and the team has to lift.
Martin had little impact in Saturday’s 49-point AFL loss to GWS in Sydney and was visibly frustrated by the attention he got from the Giants’ Matt de Boer.
The 2017 Brownlow and Norm Smith Medallist appeared to catch an opponent with a high shot which could attract the attention of the Match Review Officer as might an impolite gesture towards another opponent.
After being criticised for not laying a tackle in the Tigers first two games, Martin tallied six against GWS, but in his tenth AFL season, Martin has for the first time failed to kick a goal after three rounds.
For the first season since 2016 Richmond have conceded over 100 points and lost by over 40 in successive games.
Asked if was concerned about Martin’s form Hardwick said: “No, I’m concerned about our team’s form.
“We can quite easily lump it on an individual or we can say there’s 22 blokes out there.
‘We can’t rely on Dustin to play to an incredible level week in week out.
“We expect as a team to respond and play better, end of story.”
The Tigers’ injury toll continues to mount, with the addition of captain Trent Cotchin (hamstring) and Jayden Short (dislocated elbow), with Hardwick unsure of the severity of each.
While the Tigers have slipped to 1-2, Hardwick extracted some positives from Saturday’s game.
He feels they’ve unearthed a legitimate AFL player in Sydney Slack.
The 18-year-old West Australian tallied 17 possessions, eight marks and a booming 50-metre plus set shot goal and put a big hit on lively Giants forward Brent Daniels.
“We probably picked him tonight on a little bit of a speculative vibe, but the reality was he was fantastic,” Hardwick said.
“He’s very clean with the ball in hand, he makes terrific decisions and he’s powerful and strong.”
Hardwick also praised 19-year-old Noah Balta’s effort in his second senior game and anticipated Richmond’s injury issues would lead to other youngsters emerging.
Star offseason recruit Tom Lynch kicked four goals, giving him ten from the first three rounds.