Dusty all smiles as lowly Tigers face desperate Lions

Richmond coach Adem Yze insists Dustin Martin is walking around the club "with a smile on his face" despite a horror start to the season and ongoing speculation about the superstar's AFL future.

Martin, 32, is out of contract at the end of the year as the struggling Tigers face an increasingly difficult task to rebuild their playing list, with their golden era well and truly over.

The winds of change are also sweeping through the club off-field, with chief executive Brendon Gale the latest key pillar to confirm his departure through a move to Tasmania.

Martin is just four appearances away from the 300-game milestone but has been in the spotlight over a lean run of form as Richmond have managed just one win in nine games under first-year coach Yze.

Former Tigers captain Trent Cotchin this week questioned whether his long-time teammate has the desire to lead the club through a rebuild.

And Ralph Carr, the triple Norm Smith medallist's manager, posted a cryptic statement on social media declaring Martin "will always be the people's champion".

Yze on Thursday said a decision on Martin's playing future won't be made any time soon and maintains the 2017 Brownlow medallist is focused on the task at hand.

"We just want him training well and enjoying his footy, and that stuff will get finalised later in the year," Yze told reporters ahead of a clash with the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba on Saturday night.

"Right now he's walking around with a smile on his face, he's helping our younger players that I've spoken about the last few weeks and he's really buying into our program."

Yze has copped criticism in recent days from prominent past players in the media, who have accused him of being too soft for saying his players' effort had been acceptable in a 91-point hammering from the Western Bulldogs last week.

Richmond coach Adem Yze (centre).
Richmond coach Adem Yze (centre) has come under fire after the side's thumping by the Bulldogs.

The coach blamed execution, rather than effort, for the heavy defeat and doubled down when asked about the criticism on Thursday.

"I couldn't fault our effort in and around the contest against a quality (side)," Yze said.

"We gave some opportunities to some younger players to play against quality midfielders in the second half, and I just thought their intent and effort was OK. It is what it is."

Earlier on Thursday, Brisbane coach Chris Fagan noted Richmond had been "under the blowtorch" all week and tipped a strong response from Yze's men.

The Lions' mentor conceded his own side's season is on a "razor's edge" following a slow start to the campaign.

Beaten grand finalists last year, the 13th-placed Lions have just three wins and a draw from nine outings.

"Our season's on a razor's edge because we lost a few early games, so every time we play is important," Fagan said.

"It's not the be all and end all (against Richmond); there's still plenty of the season left to go.

"But obviously every time you play, when you're in our position, you want to try to achieve a win."

The injury-smashed Tigers have been forced into four changes with Maurice Rioli Jnr (ankle), Jack Graham (hamstring), Seth Campbell (knee) and Sam Banks (concussion) sidelined.

Second-year player Steely Green will debut while Kamdyn McIntosh and Kane McAuliffe have been recalled and small forward Matthew Coulthard will play his first game of the season.

Brisbane's Noah Answerth returns from concussion, replacing Jaxon Prior (omitted).

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