Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has confirmed the AFL club will allow sidelined superstar Dustin Martin to visit his father in New Zealand this week.
Martin is out of action after suffering concussion in the Tigers’ defeat to Melbourne on Saturday.
He is also battling a foot injury and will miss Friday night’s clash against the Western Bulldogs, but is expected to return against Geelong in round eight.
Martin will visit his father Shane Martin, who was deported from Australia in 2016, in line with the trans-Tasman travel bubble.
The pair have not seen each other in more than a year.
Hardwick said the Tigers assessed the risk associated with a key player travelling overseas during the COVID-19 pandemic and decided it was best to let Martin make a short trip.
“It’s a no-brainer for us,” Hardwick told reporters on Wednesday.
“He’ll head back to see his dad, he hasn’t seen him for a long period of time.
“It’s a little bit like everyone else, he’s travelling back to see his dad, who just happens to be overseas.
“I know it’s a little bit challenging with these COVID times but we’ll always support our player who wants to see his family.”
Hardwick acknowledged there is some chance the trans-Tasman bubble could close while Martin is away, if there is another coronavirus outbreak in either country.
“All the contingencies have been worked through but there is a very, very small probability that it happens,” Hardwick said.
“At the end of the day, you can live your life in fear or you can choose to live. We choose to live.”
Hardwick said Martin has recovered well after copping a stray arm to the head in the Demons clash, which saw him sit out the final quarter.
He has been ruled out of action this week under new AFL concussion protocols that require a 12-day rest period.
Hardwick said the foot injury had robbed Martin of his “explosiveness” over the past couple of weeks but is not bad enough that it would have sidelined the star on its own.
“It does affect his power,” Hardwick said.
“It’s a funny positive to look at, but it (the stint out of action with concussion) is a bit of a blessing in disguise.
“That (foot) will be able to heal and he’ll be better as a result of that.”
Martin joins Kane Lambert (calf) as a forced change to the Richmond side to take on the Bulldogs.
Hardwick confirmed Riley Collier-Dawkins will make his AFL debut at the MCG on Friday night.