Gold Coast boss addresses Dustin Martin speculation after meeting with Damien Hardwick

Suns boss Wayne Campbell admits they are keeping tabs on Dustin Martin's contract situation.

Gold Coast boss Wayne Campbell has revealed the Suns are keeping close tabs on Dustin Martin's contract situation as he nears unrestricted free agency at the end of this season. The Tigers great is set to play his 300th game for the club in 2024 but has been linked with a move to the Gold Coast to reunite with three-time Tigers flag-winning coach Damien Hardwick in 2025.

The coach and player were photographed together last year meeting on the Gold Coast and while Campbell admitted the Suns could be interested in his services, he said the pair's catch-up was nothing more than just that. While Gold Coast continues to monitor the three-time Norm Smith Medallist's situation, the Suns boss admits he believes Martin will likely retire as a Richmond player.

Pictured left Dustin Martin and right Damien Hardwick
Gold Coast boss Wayne Campbell admits the Gold Coast Suns are keeping tabs on Dustin Martin's contract situation as he enters unrestricted free agency at the end of the season. Image: Getty

“I mean, we were photographed on the Gold Coast last year and it was a big deal (in the media),” Campbell told SEN Sportsday. "But I almost thought at the time it'd be a bigger deal if Dustin came up and he didn't catch up with Damien, given the relationship they've got. That was just over a beer.

"I don't know (if we’ll target him), there's too much to play out, Dustin's an absolute Richmond legend and he's contracted to them. We'll keep an eye on it, but I would have thought he probably sees his days out at the Tigers."

Dustin Martin and Damien Hardwick.
Dustin Martin was spotted meeting with Damien Hardwick last year. Image: Channel 7/Getty


Kane Cornes calls for Dustin Martin to retire

Kane Cornes, on the other hand, wants to see Martin hang up his boots at the end of the season before his place in the team comes into question. Martin's disposals are sitting at an average of 16 per game this season - the lowest output so far in his 15-year AFL career - and Cornes has urged him to call it quits.

"I just think it’s time in terms of there’s nothing left for him to achieve," Cornes said on SEN Sportsday. "Does Dustin Martin want to go through that and then have questions over his form like he will get like Buddy Franklin had when he played probably one more year (than he maybe should have)? Just like Scott Pendlebury is facing now to a lesser extent."

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 24: Kane Cornes of the Power is carried off the field by Travis Boak of the Power and Angus Monfries of the Power after his 300th and final game during the round eight AFL match between the Port Adelaide Power and the Richmond Tigers at Adelaide Oval on May 24, 2015 in Adelaide, Australia.  (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)
Kane Cornes has called for Martin to hang up his boots at the end of the season. (Daniel Kalisz via Getty Images)

Cornes also doubled down on his stance on Footy Classified, saying he should call it quits at the Tigers this year and get the heroes send-off he deserves. "Is he prepared to dig in for another pre-season at the age of 33," Cornes said.

"In a rebuilding group who is probably going to lose every third week, that’s the question you’ve got to ask. It’s poignant because it’s game 300, it would give him the greatest send-off ever. He’s going to be a legend in the Australian Football Hall of Fame. He’s done everything what more is there for him to turn up on a Monday? Is he motivated to do that … I don’t know."

Wayne Campbell says Suns are in a position to target top AFL talent

Only two years ago the Suns had to sacrifice draft picks and players to stay under the salary cap but now Campbell says the Suns have the funds to target top players. The Suns boss says thanks to list manager Craig Cameron, the side is in a strong position to enter the market for AFL stars.

"We're always in the market for good players,” Campbell said. "We got ourselves into some strife a few years ago (with the salary cap), but Craig Cameron has done a terrific job of getting the books back in order.

"We've had some players go out which has been well documented and that's allowed us to get into a position where if there was someone on the market and they were a good player, that we could add to our list and felt that they would benefit us that we would certainly have a look at that. I think our players are now in a position where we're providing them with an environment where they like it for a start, and they can see a positive future."