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Richmond have been dealt a massive blow to their chances of winning another AFL premiership after confirming that three-time Norm Smith Medallist Dustin Martin has been ruled out of the remainder of the season.
Martin was taken to hospital on the Gold Coast after suffering kidney damage in a game-ending hit during his side's stirring win over Brisbane on Friday night.
The 30-year-old came off second best in a big collision with Brisbane hard nut Mitch Robinson late in the third term.
He stayed down slouched on the turf for some time as medical staff attended to the stricken player.
Tigers coach Damien Hardwick had initially downplayed injury concerns for his biggest star after the match, even revealing Martin's confidence about returning to action next week.
"He got a kick into the stomach so we sent him to hospital for precautionary reasons," Hardwick said.
"Obviously we're flying home so we just want to make sure he's available to fly - a big drive for Dusty otherwise - but we'll see how we go.
"Straight away he said he'd been fine to play next week but we'll just see what the doctor says and the scans show."
However, the club provided another update on Saturday afternoon that confirmed the worst fears for the Tigers.
Richmond doctor Greg Hickey said he expected Martin to make a full recovery, but the 30-year-old will remain in a Gold Coast hospital for a number of days.
"Dustin stayed the night in hospital for observation and has been seen by a urologist this morning. He is feeling good and remains stable," Hickey said.
"Given the delicate nature of the injury and recovery timeline, he will not play football again this season."
Tigers football performance manager Tim Livingstone said Martin's health remained the club's priority.
"We are incredibly disappointed that Dustin will spend some time on the sidelines but we are focused on his immediate well-being right now," Livingstone said.
"Dustin is in great hands with the medical and support staff around him and we will support him however we can throughout his recovery."
The dramatic development left footy fans stunned on social media, with many praying for him to make a speedy recovery.
Richmond win comes at huge cost
Martin's injury takes the shine off one of Richmond's best performances of the year, which takes them to 8-9 and back inside the top eight.
After looking like a shell of their former glory in defeats to St Kilda, Gold Coast and Collingwood, Richmond's system and spark was back.
The Tigers will likely need to win at least four of their remaining six games to be certain of playing finals.
"I think we've always had the confidence, we just haven't played to the level that we'd like," Hardwick said.
"Players (have been) coming in and out of the side so our consistency wasn't there.
"We're going to get the vast majority back now, we think, so we're really excited about that and what it does look for us moving forward.
"Hopefully we make the finals but I reckon if we get there we're going to cause some grief so we'll back ourselves in and see how we go."
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