Damien Hardwick adds Alex Rance to Gold Coast Suns, Dustin Martin, trade rumours

Damien Hardwick has added a Richmond premiership player to his expanding arsenal at the Gold Coast Suns.

The former Tigers premiership coach pulled off a massive move by poaching former premiership player Shaun Grigg out of his contract at Geelong to join him at the Suns on Monday.

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But he wasn’t done there as he looks to expand his Richmond stocks by adding superstar former defender Alex Rance.

“I caught up with Alex Rance, we’re trying to get Alex to do some work at our footy club in the leadership space and just some work with our defenders as well,” Hardwick told Seven’s Talking Finals.

“He looks like he could still play.”

Dimma and Rance are teaming back up. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/AFL Media/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Hardwick was pressed on if he would be pushing the five-time All Australian to put the boots back on and return to the field and gave a noncommittal answer.

The 33-year-old Rance however shut down those suggestions after being inducted into the WA Football Hall of Fame on Monday.

“I will be at the Suns next year, yeah for sure,” Rance said, as reported by The West Australian.

“I won’t be playing. I will do something at the Suns, I am working with ‘Dimma’ and the management staff on what that looks like and I think it probably lends itself more to the key-position craft, cultural stuff, which I really enjoyed.

“That is still a bit more ‘TBC’, but (we are) working through the finer details.

“Dimma is building his little band up there and I think it is going to be really exciting times.”

Alex Rance playing for Essendon’s VFL team against the Southport Sharks at Fankhauser Reserve on the Gold Coast. Deion Menzies, Highflyer Images.Source: Supplied

The coaching staff moves come on the heels of bombshell rumours that Hardwick is attempting to lure Dustin Martin north.

Martin was spotted catching up with Hardwick last week while holidaying on the Gold Coast, adding fuel to the rumours the triple Norm Smith medallist is seriously considering leaving the Tigers to reunite with his premiership coach.

Despite the rumour mill spinning itself into overdrive, Hardwick shut it down on Wednesday night.

“Dustin’s going to stay at Richmond,” he said on Talking Finals.

“Personally, my opinion is that is absolutely the right thing for him to do – and he’s going to stay at Richmond, which is an enormous positive for that footy club.

“Me, like 17 other coaches, would love to have him on my side. But the fact of the matter is it’s great he’s going to play his 300th game at the Richmond Football Club next year.”

Hardwick and Dusty were spotted catching up on the Gold Coast. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Hardwick joined the Suns on a monster six-year deal having departed Richmond midway through the 2023 season citing burnout.

The triple-premiership coach was officially unveiled in mid-August after Gold Coast chairman Bob East and chief executive Mark Evans flew to Milan to persuade him to join the club.

Hardwick said he was excited to play with a “great new bunch of toys”, with only “little bits” needed as additions to propel the Suns to an inaugural flag during his tenure.

“I think 80 per cent of our first premiership side is sitting in this room right now,” Hardwick said.

“There’ll be a few bits added along the way, but the fact of the matter is this club is very capable of saluting in the not too distant future.

“I’m not putting a ceiling on this group … I’m very excited about the playing list. I likened it to waking up on Christmas Day and walking out to a set of brand new toys, which is very exciting.”

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