RICHMOND coach Damien Hardwick has launched a passionate defence of Tom Lynch in the face of mounting criticism of the highly-paid key forward.

Lynch has managed 10.9 from an average of 10 disposals this season in the Tigers' disappointing 3-3 start to their latest premiership defence.

Last week against Melbourne, Lynch was held scoreless for the first time since his high-profile move to Richmond as a restricted free agent at the end of 2018.

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His seven-year deal is reportedly worth more than $6 million and Hardwick said the Tigers are getting value for money, declaring the 28-year-old spearhead is filling the role required by his team.

"Tom could go to another club and be more dynamic as a player, there's no doubt," Hardwick said.

"He comes to our club, he fulfils a role. What we determine that role is, allows us to win games of footy.

"There's no doubt he could play in a different format, a different system, and get All-Australian honours.

"But the reality is he comes in and he's happy to fulfil this role and he gets two premiership medals as a result of that."

Tigers head coach Damien Hardwick talks to Tom Lynch during a training session. Picture: AFL Photos

Lynch kicked 63.31 from 25 games in his first season at Richmond and 32.27 in 19 games - with reduced quarter lengths - last year.

Former Essendon champion Matthew Lloyd has led the chorus of prominent media commentators questioning Lynch's output in 2021.

"People can judge him for what it is but we know what we value as a (club) and Jack Riewoldt is the same," Hardwick said.

"We're a system-based side and he plays according to our system.

"If people want him to kick 60-80 goals, that's not going to happen.

"We've been down that road as a Richmond footy club and we finished ninth.

Tigers coach Damien Hardwick speaks to the media during a training session in April 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

"But the fact of the matter is that Tom and Jack play very specific roles within our system that allow us to win a lot of games of footy."

Hardwick conceded both Lynch and Riewoldt could perform better at stages "like every other player in the league".

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Riewoldt has kicked a club-best 19 goals this year, ranking third in the AFL.

"The fact of the matter is Tom is a very valued player in our system and what we choose to pay that player is what we think he's worth - end of story," Hardwick said.