Dustin Martin returns to AFL for Richmond against Collingwood, confirms Damien Hardwick

Richmond manager Damien Hardwick confirmed Dustin Martin rumors as Richmond prepares to face Collingwood on Saturday.

Richmond manager Damien Hardwick has confirmed that Dustin Martin will return to the squad for this weekend’s successful clash against Collingwood.

Martin hasn’t played since taking personal leave after the Tigers’ round 1 defeat to Carlton to face his father’s death.

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Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Hardwick revealed that Norm Smith’s triple medalist will be wearing the yellow and black jumpsuit again on Saturday.

“We can’t wait to welcome him again,” Hardwick said.

Martin returned to training unannounced last week and worked hard enough to make his comeback against the Magpies.

Richmond’s physical performance manager Peter Burge said earlier this week that Martin has completed a “huge workload” to get back to AFL speed and is ready to improve the form of the Tigers’ lineup after a thump of 109 west coast spots last weekend.

“Dustin has been training with us for a week and a half now,” Burge said.

“He completed a pretty important session here with the other guys who didn’t play last week and he did a huge workload in terms of total kilometers, some intensity, some handball matches, match simulation training.

“He’s looking really good to be potentially available for selection this week.

“We have another main session on Thursday and everything has been great so I expect he would have been selected for selection.”

Hardwick said last week that Martin would be able to return when fully prepared and did not consider getting the midfielder back into things via the VFL.

“We would probably do us and him a disservice if we put him out there without the preparation he needs,” Hardwick told reporters in Perth.

“He’s an important player and to be honest helping a Dustin Martin is likely to be better than the vast majority of AFL players, but we just want to make sure that when we get him back, he’s ready to go.”

Hardwick and club senior adviser Neil Balme both indicated last week that Martin was in a much better position mentally following his hiatus from football.

“He’s going to have his good days and his bad days, as are most of the people going through that situation,” Hardwick said.

“At this stage, it’s more good than bad, so we continue to encourage and support him and put an arm around him where it’s needed.

“But it’s in a much better space than it has been, which is really good for us and I think the world of football in general.”

With Marc McGowan, NCA NewsWire

Originally published as Richmond manager Damien Hardwick confirms news of Dustin Martin’s comeback