Hardwick hails Martin as total AFL star

Dustin Martin could make history this Saturday as the first AFL Brownlow winner to also take out the Norm Smith Medal in the same season.

But Richmond coach Damien Hardwick says his star midfielder could not care less about being judged best afield in the grand final against Adelaide .

“There’s only one medal he’s interested in and that’s a premiership medallion,” Hardwick said.

“He loves winning, this kid, just loves it.”

It is that determination that has turned Martin into one of the AFL’s top midfielders.

“He improved, again – it’s been a privilege to coach him for, I think, eight seasons now and every season, he’s improved a facet of his game,” Hardwick said of Martin’s year.

Hardwick said Martin has turned himself into a complete player, who can win the ball inside and outside, as well as go forward and kick goals.

“For a coach, he’s an oustanding chess piece, like a queen – you can put in the midfield, put him up forward, just wherever you need the game to be won,” he said.

“That’s the mark of a good player.

“What he’s really brought to his game this year, his unselfishness has risen to a new level – his ability to make his teammates better.”

Last year, Patrick Dangerfield broke the Brownlow record for a season with 35 votes and on Monday night, Martin polled 36.

Dangerfield, who was ineligible for suspension this time, led the count for much of the night before Martin beat him by two.

Martin said it would have felt awkward had the Geelong star finished with a higher tally.

“For me, I”m still more disappointed about (losing) Friday night,” Dangerfield said.

“Dusty was very much a worthy winner,.

“He’s had a phenomenal season and followed on from where he left off last year.

“There are bigger things to come for him this week as well – he’s been very good.”

In his acceptance speech, Martin thanked long-time manager Ralph Carr, who has secured him a monster seven-year deal with the Tigers..

But several years ago, Carr and Martin’s father Shane said if he did not behave better off the field, they would stop supporting him.

“It’s been a long six years and I’m absolutely thrilled he’s come this far,” Carr said.

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