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Hardwick hails Dusty’s development

Hardwick previews Dreamtime Damien Hardwick addresses the media at the Melbourne Indigenous Transition School ahead of the Dreamtime at the G blockbuster against Essendon.

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has provided an interesting insight into the leadership Tigers superstar Dustin Martin is providing within the Club’s playing group in the long-term absence of injured captain Trent Cotchin and co vice-captains Jack Riewoldt and Alex Rance.

Hardwick was full of praise for the selfless way Martin had embraced the extra responsibility placed on him as a player and leader in his 10th year of AFL football.

“With the void that’s probably in our leadership group – or that’s left our leadership group at the moment – I’ve never seen a guy step up as much as him,” Hardwick said.

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“If you had have said to me 10 years ago . . . that he’d be doing the things that he’s doing now, I’d be shaking my head.

“We’ve asked him to play different roles at different stages to help us get through this period that’s been tough.

“Sometimes it’s been more of a role that’s been more beneficial to the team than Dustin. He’ll put his hand up and play that every time.

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"We’re just happy that he’s playing his role and we’re getting wins. He loves winning . . .

“He’s grown as a player this year. His stats mightn’t say that he has, but he’s doing things that he’s never previously done for this footy club, whether it’s making two v ones, or going outside the stoppage.

“Those are the things that make a great player . . .

“It’s just been so impressive to see how far he’s come – not only this year, years previous as well.

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“Dustin’s been nothing short of sensational for our footy club . . . the publicity he’s brought, the people that have his number on their backs.

“We couldn’t ask for a better icon to be at our footy club.”