Tom Lynch has only kicked 10 goals in six games, but his coach Damien Hardwick is more than happy with his play.

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has hit back at criticism of star forward Tom Lynch after Lynch’s slow start to the 2021 season.

After kicking 63 goals in his first season with the Tigers in 2019, Lynch’s output has dropped off, with the 28-year-old managing just 10 goals from his six games, including a goalless outing against Melbourne in Round Six.

The slow start has caused critics from outside the club to question the merits of Richmond giving Lynch a seven-year, approximately $6.5 million deal as a free agent in 2018.

However, Hardwick was adamant that Lynch’s value to Richmond went beyond simple goalscoring numbers.

“People want him to kick 60 goals, 80 goals, that’s not going to happen. We’ve been down that road as the Richmond Football Club and we finished ninth,” he said.

“Tom could go to another club and be more dynamic as a player, there’s no doubt. He comes to our club, he fulfils a role. What we determine that role is, allows us to win games of footy.

“There’s no doubt he could play in a different format, a different system, and get All-Australian honours, but the reality is he comes in and he’s happy to fulfil this role and he gets two premiership medals as a result of that.

“The fact of the matter is Tom is a very valued player in our system and what we choose to pay that player is what we think he’s worth – end of story.”

Hardwick’s comments were backed up by Kangaroos premiership player David King, who explained how Lynch’s presence made it easier for the Tigers’ small-forward brigade.

“(Jason) Castagna has kicked nine goals, (Jake) Aarts has kicked seven, (Daniel) Rioli has kicked six, Shai Bolton four goals. So do those goals come about if Lynch is not bringing the ball to ground?”, King told SEN Breakfast.

“That’s their game, isn’t it? That’s Richmond’s game. The chaotic game at ground level. If he marks it, great. If he has a six-goal game, great.

“We get too consumed, and certainly the fans do, with what you’re paying these guys. He really cost them nothing in a draft, he hasn’t cost them any picks because he was a free agent, so it’s finance only.”

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