MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: Dustin Martin of the Tigers celebrates a goal with Jack Riewoldt of the Tigers (L) during the round one AFL match between the Carlton Blues and the Richmond Tigers at Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 23, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Richmond midfielder Dustin Martin dominated Thursday night’s season opener against Carlton, as Martin’s 33 disposals and four goals led the Tigers to a 43-point win.

Tigers coach Damien Hardwick praised Martin for his key role in the win, and also made mention of new recruits Dion Prestia and Josh Caddy who allowed for Martin to move into the forward line.

“It was a pretty special sort of game,” Hardwick said of Martin.

“The addition of Caddy and Prestia, it helps with ‘Dusty’ being able to play more forward.

“Dion played really well tonight, and Josh battled mercifully through the middle … his body use and those sorts of things was first class. He smashed packs.”

With Martin’s future a hot topic in the media, Hardwick praised the 25-year-old’s professionalism for putting all of the outside news behind him and getting on with his football.

“It’s what good players do (and) he’s the ultimate professional,” Hardwick said.

“He goes about his business, he trains incredibly hard, he looks after himself, and he gets the result he deserves today.”

Another impressive aspect of Richmond’s win was their forward pressure, as the Tigers booted 11 goals from Carlton’s turnovers.

“I thought our defensive press was really good tonight and I thought our pressure up forward was outstanding and certainly led to a number of scores from turnovers,” Hardwick said.

“I think we kicked 11 goals from forward-half turnovers, which is a number we haven’t had for a long time.

“To see our forwards and mids put on the pressure they did, and our backs capture those errors was a great sight I think for our fans.”

Dan Butler had a strong debut with 19 touches and two goals and was impressive alongside Jason Castagna (two goals) and Daniel Rioli (two goals), as the small forwards really set the tone for the Tigers early in the match.

“I thought they really came to another level,” Hardwick said of the small forward trio.

“They’ve all still got a lot of improvement in them as well, which is really exciting.

“We’re just going to continue to play them obviously but the consistency is what you’re looking for … with the pressure they can exert on the opposition.

“If we can get that most weeks we’re going to be pretty hard to beat.”