DUSTIN Martin isn't the answer to all of Richmond's problems as the Tigers' scratchy return to the field continued with a poor loss to Hawthorn.
The superstar midfielder and two-time Norm Smith medallist missed Thursday night's 32-point loss to the Hawks with a rib injury.
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Martin, who has played 20 or more games in all of his 10 completed seasons in the AFL, is expected to return next week against St Kilda to help bolster a Tigers unit that has only managed five goals in its past two games since recommencing the season from the COVID-19 break.
But coach Damien Hardwick says the Tigers don't rely too strongly on the brilliant 28-year-old, whose game-changing ability was severely missed against the relentless Hawks.
"You take one of the best players, if not the best player in the League, out of a side [when] you'd prefer to have him than not," Hardwick said post-game.
"[But] the reality is there's 22 other players that play our way. They just didn't play well enough tonight. Dustin's one player, he's not the Richmond Football Club.
"He's a very important player, don't get me wrong, but our expectation and the club expectation is our players who pull on the jumper play a hell of a lot better than they did tonight. We've got to coach them better as well."
Hardwick, who labelled the Tigers' first defeat in more than 12 months as "Un-Richmondlike", said Martin is expected to be fit to face the Saints at Marvel Stadium.
"We think he's highly probably next week. He was touch-and-go this week but we made the call to get it right," Hardwick said.
"We don't want it to be nagging him for another two or three weeks. Our expectation is he plays next week."
The Tigers were completely outplayed by a Hawthorn side that flipped straight back into form after last week's thrashing at the hands of Geelong.
Coach Alastair Clarkson put the heat onto his side this week following their second-half capitulation against the Cats.
"It was a tough week because we were so disappointed with our performance. We've got a proud group and a proud club and we lowered our colours to a good side last week," Clarkson said.
"But I hope I'm not discrediting Geelong by saying that, but they're not that good. We were just terribly poor. We expected a response and we got one. But the challenge for us is to back up that response."
Jaeger O'Meara's return in the midfield was central to the Hawks' dominance in that part of the ground, with the former Sun gathering 23 disposals and four clearances in his first game back from his facial fracture. But Clarkson didn't want to overstate the impact of the midfielder.
"I don't want to discredit Jaeger either, because he was terrific for us tonight, but whether it's our supporters or the general football public, we saw a different Hawthorn side tonight," he said.