BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 24: Senior coach Damien Hardwick and Dustin Martin of the Tigers speak during a press conference after the 2020 AFL Grand Final match between the Richmond Tigers and the Geelong Cats at The Gabba on October 24, 2020 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Matt Roberts/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

In-demand coach Damien Hardwick has addressed a highly-speculated move to the Gold Coast to become the new coach of the Suns.

The Suns, who have a senior coaching vacancy after dismissing ex-coach Stuart Dew in early July, are understood to be nearing the finalisation of a five-year deal to cement Hardwick as their new coach.

On Friday, Channel 7 reporter Mitch Cleary conducted an impromptu interview with Hardwick upon his return from holidaying in Europe, stopping Hardwick as he exited his manager's office.

"Look, it's good to be back, first of all," laughed Hardwick after being stopped by Cleary for an interview on Friday. "I enjoyed my trip."

Asked if he's ready to coach in the AFL again, Hardwick all but confirmed his new Suns venture, addressing his covert meeting with Gold Coast officials in Europe in recent weeks.

"Yeah, absolutely (I'm ready). I'm looking forward to a possible new challenge. So, like I said, I've got some things to work through and we'll make a decision pretty soon.

"It was great to catch up with Mark (Evans, Gold Coast CEO) and Bob (East, the Suns' chairman) over in Milan but I've got a lot to think about over the weekend and when I know, you'll know."

Quizzed on whether he'd like to bring three-time flag champion and Brownlow medallist Dustin Martin with him, Hardwick wasn't as open to comment.

"I'm gonna leave that at that," concluded Hardwick.

Cleary reported Martin is "more open to" a move to the Gold Coast "than ever".

Hardwick, who departed the Richmond head-coaching helm after the Tigers' Dreamtime at the 'G loss to Essendon in Round 10, is back in Melbourne and will attend Richmond's clash with North Melbourne on Saturday when Trent Cotchin and Jack Riewoldt run out at the MCG for the final time in their decorated careers.

The three-time Tigers premiership mentor had a season and a half remaining on his Richmond coaching contract, prompting questions regarding his motives.

The Age reported in early August Hardwick was deep in discussions with Gold Coast about signing a five-year deal to coach the fledgling football club, with Suns representatives understood to have travelled to Europe to meet the coach while he was vacationing.

Richmond is currently being headed by interim coach and long-time Hardwick assistant Andrew McQualter, while Steven King is currently leading the Suns in the interim.

McQualter is also putting his hand up for the permanent job, as he is considered a likely chance alongside a shortlist of strong candidates.