Decorated three-time Richmond premiership coach Damien Hardwick has opened up on a host of intriguing topics including Kane Lambert's crucial one-two-punch partnership with numerous offensive-minded Tigers, the controversial nature of Jason Castagna's early retirement, and his meaningful thoughts on superstar Brownlow medallist Dustin Martin.

Hardwick, who shockingly ceased his storied Tigerland tenure after Richmond's narrow 'Dreamtime at the G' defeat to Essendon in Round 10, also flagged his desire to "step back in" to AFL coaching during a jam-packed discussion on the Dyl and Friends podcast.

The host of Dyl and Friends, ex-GWS and Carlton footballer Dylan Buckley, surfaced the topic of Lambert and the unheralded defensive role the midfielder-forward played in complementing the attack-heavy game styles of Martin, Shai Bolton, Shane Edwards, and others of the like, throughout his highly-appreciated Tigers tenure.

'Dimma' stated they were hard relationships to describe, detailing Lambert's critical defensive job of supplementing a host of Richmond's attacking guns.

"Spot on, it's very, very hard to explain, even as a coach, we used to call (the partnership) 'Barry', it was a 'Barry and Larry' sort of thing," Hardwick began explaining.

"The reality is, Dustin's got some strengths in the game. Offensively, he's incredibly gifted, [but] defensively is where he's okay, but it's not his number one strength, so instead of getting Dustin to play as a defensive element of the game, because if we did that we'd be taking away his strengths [and] we'd lose the offensive impact, whereas Kane, offensively, was okay but defensively had a great understanding of role clarity, about what was required at certain times, and so those two worked in conjunction the whole time so Dustin could just play, Kane would basically be thinking for [him].

"Dustin's a bad example, [Lambert] did that for Shai (Bolton) and Shane Edwards and all that sort of stuff, but his role was really, really important because it complemented other roles, and that's what he did really, really well, and that's why those role players are so important to the fabric of, not only our footy club but every footy club, really."

Next, Hardwick explored the unfortunate circumstances surrounding Castagna's unexpected pre-season retirement, expressing his fear that the three-time premiership forward may have closed the door on his AFL career due to the scrutiny he received from fans online, announcing his guilt for not doing more to publicly defend his disciple.

"Probably one of the hardest things for me was when Jason Castagna retired, he was one of the greatest role players, if not the greatest role player that our football club has ever seen," said Hardwick.

"I sort of felt like I didn't protect him enough, I hope this isn't the case, but I've got a funny feeling that social media brought about the downfall of 'George'.

"It became too hard for him, his love of the game diminished because of the criticism that he would get from fans, and I sort of felt a little bit of guilt towards that because I think, internally, we sort of gave him the due credit he deserved, but externally, I sort of felt a little bit guilty that maybe I didn't stick up for him enough with regard to the role he played, and didn't give him the due credits that he deserved for making us a great side."

Hardwick cited fans' preference for fantasy football value, instead of an appreciation for Richmond's nuanced game style, as a reason why Castagna was unappealing in the eyes of some.

"I sort of felt that it got the better of him, and that's the hard thing about our game. People sort of sit there and look at SuperCoach points; kicks, marks, handballs, well Richmond's not really about that," Hardwick said.

"They're about a system that gives them an opportunity to play, or a way to play the game that'll give them wins, and by those players playing those positions, will allow other players to flourish and succeed."

Finally, Hardwick dedicated a portion of time to discussing one of his favourite sons at Punt Road in Martin, an enigmatic character who played a paramount role in delivering the ultimate club success to Tigers fans, three times over.

"I remember walking up on stage (when Martin was drafted in 2009) and he had to get into his Richmond jersey, I'm not even sure he knew I was the coach, to be fair, at that stage, he threw his (other) top at me and I caught his top and he put the [Richmond] one on and [I] shook his hand," laughed a reminiscing Hardwick.

"He's a very, very quiet guy, but the one thing, there's a reason players are superstars, I reckon, don't get me wrong, they're talented, but they work harder than anyone else, like [Martin] as a player was naturally talented but people didn't realise how hard he worked.

"He had an ability, every year he would work on something to get better at something, whether it was physically, or mentally, or spiritually, he'd always do something to have an aim over the off-season to get better, and that's why he's one of the greatest players to ever play the game, and I sit there and watch him and the things that he does, you're just amazed at.

"We watch from different angles and different bits of vision, and the way he can see the game unfolding and the things that he can do are just special."

Hardwick revealed he's recently been in contact with Martin via text message, sharing a message regarding Martin's positive aura at the football club in recent times.

"The pleasing thing is, he texted me the other night and I texted him back, I said 'Mate, the best thing I've seen from you in the last couple of weeks is [you're] back, smiling, [you're] back engaged and [you're] loving footy again', which is really important," said Hardwick.

"He's just not quite kicking his goals at the moment but that'll come, he's getting his touches but ... he'll get it."

The 50-year-old Hardwick, who recently arrived home after a stint in the United States, will soon be jetting off to Europe.

For the seasoned industry veteran, it'll no doubt be a liberating period of time during which the ex-Tigers mentor will strongly ponder his imminent AFL coaching future.