'Considering his future': Devastating twist in Dustin Martin absence

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Dustin Martin is pictured right alongside a photo of father Shane, who died in December, 2021.
Dustin Martin has been left heartbroken by the tragic death of his father Shane in December, 2021. Pic: Richmond FC/Getty

Richmond superstar Dustin Martin's future in the AFL is under a massive cloud, with new reports claiming the "heartbroken" 30-year-old is “considering his future in the game”.

Martin has been on personal leave from Richmond since last week and sat out the Tigers' win over GWS on Sunday, as he deals with a number of things including the tragic death of his father Shane in December.

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The Richmond ace was extremely close with his dad and the devastating loss has taken a massive toll on Martin, with Tigers coach Damien Hardwick saying the club will give the grieving star all the time he needs.

However, the three-time Norm Smith medallist is no certainty to return to the AFL, with reporter Sam McClure revealing that Martin is seriously weighing up his future.

“He’s considering his future in the game, I don’t think it’s overdramatic to say,” McClure said on 3AW’s Sportsday.

“You can read between the lines of what the club has been saying, with Damien Hardwick yesterday. Dustin has really been struggling and you can understand that, with the injury he went through, with losing his father who was in another country.

“He’s climbed the premiership mountain, Norm Smith medal a few times, he’s lost enjoyment in the game. I think all the people around him are just trying to give him the time he needs to not make a rash decision when his heart is broken.”

McClure added: “The people you speak to say since the death of his father, he has been a different person around his love for footy.

“He’s been less smiling at training, less vivacious because he’s such a big personality inside the four walls of Richmond, we know he’s shy with the media, but he just hasn’t been that.

“It’s great for him that he’s recognised that and he’s got great people around him, and he’s got a great footy club as well.”

Seen here on the left is Richmond star Dustin Martin and his late father Shane on the right.
Dustin Martin has taken personal leave from Richmond to grieve the death of his father Shane. Image: Getty/AAP

Richmond have 'no set date' for Dustin Martin return

Tigers coach Hardwick wouldn't be drawn on such reports but reiterated that the club will give their best player all the time and space he needs to deal with his grief.

He said Martin had also dealt with the difficult process of returning to football from the lacerated kidney that ended his 2021 season.

"Dustin's taking his time to figure out what he needs to move forward and as we've spoken about, he's had a really tough six months, none tougher than what he's had to deal with, first with the injury then with the loss of his father," Hardwick told Fox Footy's AFL 360.

"He just needs the time to heal. Grief is a thing that it's really like an injury. There's no two ways about it. You have to get some some treatment to make yourself heal and he's just taking the time to do that.

"His father was incredibly close to him, obviously from a parent point of view, but he was also his best mate. So it was going to take some time and we're just prepared to give him that.

"He'll take the time he needs to figure out what he needs. There's no set date."

Three-time Norm Smith Medallist and 2017 Brownlow Medallist Martin has been an irrepressible figure on-field throughout Richmond's dominant years, and for many of his 261 games.

Shane Martin, pictured here with Australian actress Rachel Griffiths watching the 2019 AFL grand final in New Zealand.
Shane Martin with Australian actress Rachel Griffiths watching the 2019 AFL grand final in New Zealand. (AAP Image/Brett Phibbs)

But Hardwick said the Tigers were missing Martin's personality and energy around Punt Road more than his on-field presence.

"He's such an important fabric of our footy club. We miss him, there's no doubt - not on the footy field but just in the club," Hardwick said.

"He is just an exuberant person, enthusiastic and every time there's a game being played, I think of the word game and I straight away think of Dustin.

"Whether it's a game of cricket, basketball in the gym or anything like that, he just brings about a sense of energy that is irreplaceable. So we just miss him from that point of view."

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

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, and previously spoke of his heartache that he couldn't see him more.

Mental health support for yourself or a loved one can be found by calling Lifeline on 13 11 14, Mensline on 1300 789 978, or Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800. Online support is available via Beyond Blue.

with AAP

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