Dustin Martin and Damien Hardwick embrace after the 2020 Grand Final between Richmond and Geelong at the Gabba. Picture: AFL Photos

GOLD Coast coach Damien Hardwick has done little to hose off speculation the Suns are interested in acquiring Dustin Martin.

Hardwick said clubs would be crazy to not assess Martin's availability, given his status as an unrestricted free agent once his lucrative seven-year deal expires at season's end.

The 2017 Brownlow medallist was the first player drafted at Richmond during Hardwick's 14-season coaching reign there, with the pair central to the Tigers' three premierships.

Hardwick was asked on Wednesday morning about the possibility of pursuing Martin and kept the door well and truly open.


"Dustin's a contracted player at Richmond (until the end of 2024). That's obviously for Dustin to decide and Richmond to work their way through," he said.

"He's a really, really good player, there's no doubt about that, and every single club would be crazy if they didn't sit there and at some stage make an assessment.

"Like 17 other clubs, we're always looking for good players. 

"Gold Coast is no different. Those list management calls will get made at the back-end of the year.


There's already a Richmond flavour at Gold Coast with Shaun Grigg joining the coaching staff last off-season, while Alex Rance also has a part-time role.

One crucial member the Suns will be without for Saturday's match against North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium is co-captain Jarrod Witts, who suffered a fractured vertebrae late in the win over Collingwood.

"It's incredibly brave. He went off and had some help from the doctors to get back on the field," Hardwick said.

"It's just incredible courage from the great man, that's why he's our captain.

"While it's a significant loss losing your captain, it's also great to give an opportunity to a young, emerging player (Ned Moyle) that we think is willing and able to take that role."

Jarrod Witts competes in the ruck against Darcy Cameron during the match between Gold Coast and Collingwood at People First Stadium in round 16, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Hardwick said Witts would be sidelined "short-term" and would be re-assessed next week.