RICHMOND coach Damien Hardwick concedes he overstepped the mark in his critique of star midfielder Dustin Martin during his post-match press conference last week.
After the Tigers' 70-point loss to Hawthorn last Sunday, in which Martin racked up 39 possessions and 10 clearances, Hardwick was asked if his best midfielder could win the Brownlow Medal.
The coach, who believed Martin had handballed too much instead of taking attacking options, responded: "Not on today's game. I didn't think he was that good today."
Hardwick said he had since spoken to Martin about his comments and the 25-year-old, who has racked up at least 30 possessions in eight of his past nine games, understood.
"I called Mark Maclure a goose last week and I think I was in the same boat," Hardwick said on Thursday, in reference to the ABC commentator's refusal to award Martin a vote after his 43-disposal performance against Essendon in round 17.
"We speak all the time, there are stages where I overstep the mark like I did on the weekend, and 'Dusty' understands that.
"It's a volatile game footy, it's an emotional game."
Hardwick, who went on to give Martin four of a possible five votes in the AFL Coaches Association award, said he was frustrated at being asked about the Brownlow Medal after a team performance in the final quarter he labeled "shameful".
"You're talking to a coach who has just come off a 10-goal loss and you're asking about an individual award, which I've got no interest in," he said.
"I'm more interested in wins and losses, and if you ask Dustin, you know what he is more interested in? Wins and losses.
"So it was more along the line of the questioning. I don't really care about the Brownlow and I know Dustin doesn't either."
After a nine-goals-to-two last quarter against the Hawks, in which his players had been "able but not willing", Hardwick said he expected a response against Greater Western Sydney at Manuka Oval on Saturday.
Defender Bachar Houli, who has been sidelined for 11 weeks with a wrist injury, appears likely to play after returning through the VFL last week.
"He'll put his hand up today and he'll probably come back into the side … he's an important player for us," Hardwick said.
Vice-captain Brett Deledio (calf) appears less likely, after completing touch work away from the main group on Tuesday with Ben Lennon (ankle), Kamdyn McIntosh (ankle) and Chris Yarran (mental health).
Dylan Grimes trained with the team after being pulled from Sunday's clash against Hawthorn in the third quarter with hamstring tightness.
"It was a conservative call from us, we weren't prepared to lose him for a four-week block," Hardwick said.
"We think it was more related to his back … we'll see how he pulls up, but we're not going to take risks with Dylan."