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Martin’s versatility a weapon for Tigers

Hardwick press conference, 24th April. Damien Hardwick, speaks to the media ahead of Sunday's round 6 game against Hawthorn.
Dustin Martin of the Tigers celebrates a goal during the 2014 AFL round 02 match between the Richmond Tigers and the Carlton Blues at the MCG, Melbourne on March 27, 2014. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Dustin Martin of the Tigers celebrates a goal during the 2014 AFL round 02 match between the Richmond Tigers and the Carlton Blues at the MCG, Melbourne on March 27, 2014. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick admits the Tigers must improve their goalkicking ahead of Sunday’s clash with Hawthorn, but insists that playing Dustin Martin as a more permanent forward is not the solution.

Martin kicked three crucial goals in Richmond’s win over Brisbane last Thursday night, but Hardwick believes the explosive midfielder is simply too important to restrict to one part of the ground.

“Wherever we feel we have a need for him, he’ll play,” Hardwick said.

“He’ll play a little bit midfield, also some forward again this week.

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“He’ll go through various (positions). He’s probably a bit like (Luke) Hodge for Hawthorn, he goes forward, back, middle, and Dusty’s a little bit the same.

“For us, he’s a good player, he’s a dynamic player. He can get the ball going our way, he’s capable of winning one-on-ones, so he’s an important player to us.”

Hardwick praised his side’s ability to create scoring opportunities, but said the Tigers must take their chances at the MCG this weekend after a slow start saw them kick 11.20 against the Lions, including 2.8 in the opening term.

“I think we’ve kicked 8.20 in the first quarters where, funnily enough from a scoring shot point of view, we’re one of the better sides in the competition,” he said.

"Unfortunately it’s not goals. We’ve addressed that this week, we’ve focused on a few areas we think we can help improve, but we’ve just got to make sure we get the scoreboard pressure on early.

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“What happens if you miss goals (is that) you end up changing something you’re doing because the scoreboard is not going your way.”

Hardwick is confident that his side's impressive forward pressure will help the Tigers continue their good record against Hawthorn.

“Our pressure rating in that end of the ground is up there with the best in the AFL, as are our forward-50 turnovers, so it’s an area of our game we pride ourselves on. We’ve just got to make sure we bring it against the Hawks this week,” he said.

"We’ll endeavour to do a couple of the same things that we’ve done the last time we played, so it’s going be an interesting contest.”