‘100 per cent’: Dusty update good news for Tigers

AFL Rd 11 -  Richmond v Essendon
Dustin Martin will at least see out the season with the Tigers, his coach says. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Richmond coach Adem Yze has “no doubt” superstar Dustin Martin will play out the rest of the season beyond Saturday’s 300-game milestone and has baulked at having conversations about his future beyond 2024.

Yze suggested the three-time Norm Smith medallist would make a “very good coach” such has been his increasing impact on his Tiger teammates, with a video tribute “he’ll cringe at” set to be part of the lead in to Saturday’s clash with Hawthorn.

Martin has maintained his longstanding stance of not giving any interviews ahead of his milestone match, with a full focus on preparing for his best performance, but is set to talk to media in the aftermath of what Yze hopes is a “big win” against the Hawks.

Richmond’s chances of getting back-to-back wins is set to be boosted by the return of spearhead Tom Lynch, who the coach said was “ready to go” last week having not played since injuring his hamstring in round 4.

Richmond Tigers Training Session
It’s a ‘massive’ game for Dustin Martin. Picture: Martin Keep/Getty Images

But the focus remains on Martin and while Yze said the 32-year-old megastar just wanted to, as always, play his role, his was a career that had to be celebrated.

“He’s up and about. It’s a massive game for him,” Yze said on Thursday.

“When he’s here he wants to train and train hard. His whole focus has been around performance on Saturday afternoon.

“We’ll have a little bit of a highlights tape, and it won’t be a little one, it will be an amazing video during our captains’ run. He’ll cringe while we’re playing it, but you have to celebrate him.

“He’s an amazing competitor, he trains really hard, but the care and connection he has for his teammates, and how smart he is out on the field, the knowledge he has imparted on our younger players during the week, has been amazing.

“He’d hate me saying this, but he could be a very good coach. It’s the last thing he’d want to do, but the way he sees the game is amazing.”

Yze said Martin’s lack of media interviews this week was in keeping with his focus on preparation, and when he played his biggest games, he was always willing to talk.

“It’s not silence, it’s just the way he is. We don’t want to put any more pressure on him getting out there and performing,” Yze said.

“He’ll speak to the media after the game. Hopefully, after a good win. That’s how he rolls.

“After the Norm Smith he spoke to the media … that’s after the event, he wants to perform first.”

Amid ongoing speculation about what Martin could do in 2025, with rumoured links to former coach Damien Hardwick at the Gold Coast, and even a suggestion from former Carlton star Brendan Fevola that he could walk away after Saturday’s game, Yze said he knew the Brownlow medallist was committed to the Tiger cause for 2024.

“100 per cent, he’s committed for the season and if you watched his last three weeks, other than the week we gave him off, he’s committed and starting to play some really good footy. I’ve got no doubt he will finish out the season,” Yze said.

“There’s always going to be that around (his future) and this week it’s highlighted because he’s playing his 300th, and like I’ve said all along, we just want him enjoying his footy and he’ll make that decision at the end of the year or as that gets closer.

“Right now we want to celebrate him and he can get to the end of the year with a clear mind.”