RICHMOND superstar Dustin Martin will make his eagerly anticipated return against Collingwood, with coach Damien Hardwick saying the Tigers were never concerned he would retire.
Hardwick confirmed if Martin got through training on Thursday he would be a starter for Saturday’s clash at the MCG, two weeks after he recommenced training.
The triple Norm Smith medallist hasn’t played since round one after taking personal leave.
"We're looking forward to welcoming him back and hopefully he has an impact for us on the weekend, which we're sure he will," Hardwick told reporters.
"He's going to be not at his optimal, but he's certainly trained reasonably hard, as hard as he could without being in a team environment.
"We're pleasantly surprised by how he's moving and how he's operating thus far.
"But we're playing one of the hardest games in the world, so we'll level our expectations, we'll just put him out there and see how he goes.
"At 50 per cent Dustin Martin's still a pretty good player on our books."
MEDICAL ROOM Check out the full injury list
Martin has been grieving the death of his father Shane, who died in New Zealand in December, having returned to action this season from a lacerated kidney that ended his 2021 campaign in round 18.
"Not from our point of view (we weren't worried he wouldn't come back)," Hardwick said.
"He's in a good space but it's like anyone that's had a loss of their best mate and their father, there'll be ups and downs.
"We support him, we understand that and we'll continue to provide support where we need.
"He's continued to work on what he needs to get the very best out of himself, but it's challenging for people that have gone through such events.
"So we just wrap our arms around him as best we can and allow him the space and time he needs."
The 30-year-old returned to training at Punt Road on April 23.
Hardwick said Martin was looking fit and previously "put his hand up" to return a week earlier, against West Coast last Friday.
Martin ultimately missed the 109-point demolition of the Eagles but completed a big session at Punt Road that day.
"Just him walking in the door last week was a significant boost to our club and hopefully we'll get the same impact when he walks on the hallowed turf of the 'G this week in front of our fans," Hardwick said.
Martin’s return is timely. Richmond (3-4) sits ninth on the ladder and one spot behind fierce rivals Collingwood, who are 4-3 in their first season under former Tigers VFL boss Craig McRae.
Former captain Trent Cotchin is also due to return after being managed while Marlion Pickett (hamstring/personal reasons) could play.
Meanwhile, dual-premiership Tiger Josh Caddy has retired, effective immediately.
Hardwick said after chronic hamstring problems, the "selfless" 29-year-old had retired to give the Tigers an additional list spot for the mid-season draft.
Caddy played 174 AFL games for Gold Coast, Geelong and Richmond but none this season.
He played in the breakthrough 2017 premiership and claimed a second flag in 2019.