RICHMOND coach Damien Hardwick hopes creating an environment at Punt Road Oval where Dustin Martin can reach his full potential will be enough to convince the star midfielder to stay. 

But the coach concedes he doesn't know how or when the club champion's latest round of contract negotiations will end as he enters 2017 as one of the game's hottest free agents.

"My job is to be there for Dustin and make sure he can be the best player he can be," Hardwick told

"How it ends, I'm not too sure, but in saying that I'd like to think our footy club has been a great place for Dustin to be.

"The environment we're in lends itself to free agency and that's the way it is, but I think the relationship our football club has with Dustin is very strong." 

Martin signed his last contract – a two-year extension – in February 2015, but his 2013 negotiations dragged into September, weeks before that deal expired.   

Richmond's negotiations with Martin's manager, Ralph Carr, are being led by list manager Dan Richardson and football chief Neil Balme. 

Hardwick said he was not receiving rolling updates on the talks and did not need to set a deadline for his midfielder to declare his intentions. 

"You always want to get a fair indication where things are at with all players," he said. 

"(But) take Dustin out of the equation from a list management point of view, it's a bit fluid in a way. 

"It'll happen when it happens. It's not something I continually worry about every night."