Richmond under fire over Dustin Martin 'mistake' in AFL finals loss

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
 Dustin Martin, pictured here after Richmond's loss to the Brisbane Lions in their AFL elimination final.
Dustin Martin looks on after Richmond's loss to the Brisbane Lions. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Kane Cornes has criticised Richmond's decision to play a "way underdone" Dustin Martin in Thursday night's elimination final loss to Brisbane.

In a game with 17 lead changes, Joe Daniher had the final say when a Richmond spoil landed at his feet and he soccered through the go-ahead goal with 64 seconds remaining at the Gabba.

'WHAT A JOKE': AFL world in uproar over 'disgraceful' finals drama

'MASSIVE COUP': Gary Ablett comeback news leaves AFL world in frenzy

The 16.10 (106) to 16.8 (104) win means Brisbane will now play the loser of Sydney's clash with Melbourne, while Richmond's season is over after they had entered the finals in hot form.

In his return from a lengthy absence due to a hamstring injury, Martin had 15 touches and kicked a first-quarter goal.

But speaking on SEN radio on Friday morning, Port Adelaide great Cornes questioned Richmond's selection of Martin after coach Damien Hardwick admitted earlier in the week that he was only about '80 per cent fit'.

“(It was) a mistake clearly to play Dustin Martin I thought,” Cornes said.

“Your ears pricked up before the game when Damien Hardwick says he’s only going to be 80 per cent fit.

“He was a bit of a liability last night, Dustin Martin, they didn’t want to get him on the ground in the vital moments ... Just three touches (in the fourth quarter), all of those in the defensive half and for the last half of the last quarter they couldn’t or didn’t want to get him on the ground.

“So a warning to other coaches, injured players – regardless of how good they are and regardless of their reputation – doesn’t often work in finals, I don’t think.”

Dustin Martin, pictured here in action for Richmond against Brisbane in the AFL elimination final.
Dustin Martin in action for Richmond against Brisbane in the AFL elimination final. (Photo by Chris Hyde/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

David King defends Dustin Martin selection

However North Melbourne champion David King disagreed, saying: “Just the fact that he’s out there, he takes a match-up and you get the domino effect, you get lesser-ranked players against other talent in that Richmond forward line, and you’d have to say the Richmond forward line functioned, they’ve finished with 16.8, so I don’t agree with that opinion.

“I understand you’re hot on the decision to play him, but why wouldn’t you play him? What he’s done in finals, we haven’t seen a player like this before in finals.

“So when he’s declared fit to play, what, you don’t play him?”

On Wednesday, Hardwick said of Martin: "He's a certain starter. He's turned the corner the last three weeks.

"Who is 100 per cent at this stage of the season? Eighty per cent Dustin Martin is pretty formidable, I'd still hate to play on him.

"What impact we get we're not too sure. Anything we get from him on a spiritual level will be very, very important and everything on field will be a bonus for us."

Damien Hardwick, pictured here during Richmond's clash with Brisbane.
Damien Hardwick looks on during Richmond's clash with Brisbane. (Photo by Chris Hyde/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

Martin also has an AFL investigation hanging over his head after video emerged on social media this week of him appearing to grab a topless woman's breast.

Richmond officials believe the video was taken in 2015 and occurred at the Sporting Globe Hotel in Melbourne.

"At first pass, the video, it's a poor look," AFL boss Gillon McLachlan said on Thursday.

“Respect for women is paramount generally, as a statement it’s clear across the AFL and unambiguous.

"It's with our integrity guys and they'll follow up at the right time, and I'm sure they'll try and speak to everyone involved."

with AAP

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.