'He's heartbroken': Details emerge about Dustin Martin's absence

Dustin Martin, pictured here in action for Richmond.
Dustin Martin is reportedly still grieving the death of father Shane. Image: Getty/AAP

Dustin Martin's leave of absence from Richmond is reportedly due to the recent death of his father Shane, with the Tigers superstar said to be still grieving the tragic loss.

Richmond announced on Thursday that Martin is taking time away from the AFL club and is in doubt for Sunday's match against the GWS Giants.

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Martin was a notable absentee from Thursday's training session at Punt Rd and has not been at the club since Monday's match review.

Coach Damien Hardwick said Martin was taking time away from the club because of personal issues, without going into details.

"He's dealing with a couple of personal issues and whether he's available to play this week, we're unsure at this stage," Hardwick said.

"So we won't close the door, but we just want to make sure that Dustin's OK. We'll give him his time.

"He's so important to the fabric of our footy club, we just want to make sure he's OK and he's getting what he needs."

On Friday, leading AFL reporter Jon Ralph reported that Martin's absence is due to the death of his father in New Zealand in December.

“My understanding is he’s just heartbroken by the loss of his dad, who of course was a mentor, and he hasn’t really been able to find a person to replace him,” Ralph said on Fox Footy.

“(He was) such an integral part of his life and just a great person to be a sounding board for him.

“Quite possibly (he’ll play this week). Dustin Martin has told the club that he is still very keen to take on GWS on Sunday at the MCG despite missing this week’s training session so far with personal issues.”

Shane Martin, pictured here celebrating in New Zealand after Richmond won the AFL grand final in 2019.
Shane Martin celebrates in New Zealand after Richmond won the AFL grand final in 2019. (AAP Image/Brett Phibbs)

Dustin Martin rocked by tragic death of father

Shane Martin was found dead in his native New Zealand in December at the age of 54.

NZ Police said they attended a property on the street on which Mr Martin lived, where a man was found dead.

Jarrod Gilbert - who co-wrote Mr Martin's biography ‘A Rebel in Exile' - told the NZ Herald that Shane was found “face down on his kitchen floor” after suffering a suspected heart attack.

Shane had been living in New Zealand since 2016 after being deported from Australia on character grounds.

He was previously a top-ranking member of the Rebels motorcycle gang and had his visa cancelled under section 501 of the Australian Immigration Act, which states people can be deported if they have a "substantial" criminal record.

Dustin Martin visited his father last April when the travel bubble with New Zealand opened.

Dustin Martin, pictured here in action for Richmond against Carlton.
Dustin Martin in action for Richmond against Carlton. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

The pair shared a close bond but had not seen each other for 12 months prior to that visit because of travel restrictions.

“It’s been a massive challenge, but it is what it is,” Martin said in March.

“I love my dad and he’s made me the man I am today. I’ve got full belief he’ll back here to watch us win another flag.

“That’s my dream to be able to have the old man up there (in the grandstand) with the rest of my family and watch the Tiges win another flag.”

In 2020, Mr Martin was sent back to New Zealand after flying to Sydney and being detained by Border Force officials.

He was forced to watch his son win the 2019 and 2020 premierships from New Zealand.

“It's pretty hard to see it on TV when I should be there, really, but that's another story," he said last year.

“It's still a proud moment but I would have loved to be there, but yeah, you know, it is what it is, don’t want to take the moment away from it.”

Mr Martin had previously renounced his connection to the Rebels bikie gang.

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