'Unmitigated rot': AFL torched over Dustin Martin controversy

Chris Young
·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
A 50-50 split image shows Dustin Martin on the left and Garry Lyon on the right.
After Dustin Martin escaped with his third fine for striking in two seasons, former AFL great Garry Lyon says the league has gone soft on players punching each other. Pictures: Getty Images

AFL great Garry Lyon has savaged the league, after Richmond star Dustin Martin was given his second fine for striking in as many months.

The former Melbourne Demons great said the league was sending the message that it was OK to punch opponents off the ball, after Martin was fined for separate incidents in which he punched Port Adelaide’s Tom Rockliffe on Monday night, and North Melbourne’s Luke McDonald last month.

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A crackdown on off the ball punches came in 2018, after Fremantle’s Hamish Brayshaw had his jaw broken behind the play by West Coast rival Andrew Gaff.

After both of Martin’s incidents though, Lyon slammed the AFL for going soft on such offences.

“We’ve been told about this punching. These come into vogue and then they go out of vogue,” Lyon said on Fox Footy’s On The Couch.

“The AFL, if you’re watching: You are condoning punching to the head and punching to the guts.

“So don’t tell us in any other way, because you’re not taking a stand and you’re not stamping out punching to the head.

“You are kidding yourself and don’t tell us any anything else either.”

Garry Lyon maintains pressure on AFL striking sanctions

Lyon continued to pile pressure on the AFL on Wednesday morning, again raising the issue of punches behind the play on SEN Radio.

He said it was clear the AFL had not been taking striking charges as seriously as they were a couple of years ago, describing their recent sanctions as ‘rot’.

“Don’t ever come back to us and tell us you’re taking striking seriously again as they did about a year or two ago,” Lyon said.

“‘Oh, we want to stamp out striking, it’s a bad look for the game, it sends a really bad message’. That is disingenuous rot from the AFL.

“So, Dusty went for the third time in two years for striking on the weekend. Just punched (Rockliff) in the throat — and OK it wasn’t that hard, but is that what you want?

Richmond star Dustin Martin got away with a fine after punching Port Adelaide's Tom Rockliffe in the throat. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
Richmond star Dustin Martin got away with a fine after punching Port Adelaide's Tom Rockliffe in the throat. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

“If that was his first time then I can accept ‘not enough force’, but it’s the third time in two years for striking and he hasn’t missed a game.

“I’m not going to go on about it, but don’t ever come back and say, ‘Oh the look of the game is important to us and we want to stamp out striking’ because that is just rot. Unmitigated rot.”