AFL trend labelled 'one of the greatest blights on our game'

An AFL great has taken a swipe at an ugly trend in the AFL that he's labelled "one of the greatest blights on our game currently."

Essendon legend Tim Watson was speaking on SEN Breakfast on Monday about the number of times players have been targeting opponents with physical off-the-ball hits.

The ongoing battle between Richmond's Dustin Martin and Brisbane's Rick Robertson on Sunday was the latest in a long list of confrontations that Watson believes have crossed the line this season.

"Why do we accept that you can actually hit somebody off the ball when they're not involved in the passage of play?" Watson said.

"Why have we just said throughout the course of our game that that is acceptable behaviour?"

Martin is certain to come under match review panel scrutiny following his third-quarter running battle with Lions agitator Robertson.

Robertson went onto Martin, who was running red-hot in the third term, and did everything he could to niggle the Tigers star.

Video shows Robertson clearly kneeing Martin in the back of the leg.

Then came the incident that could cost Martin his Brownlow eligibility.

The camera angle makes the contact unclear, but Martin reaches around from behind and Robertson briefly drops to the ground, holding his face.

Watson said it was about time the AFL made a more concerted effort to stamp out the cheap shots from the game.

"There is not another game in the world where you would be allowed to do what we accept in our game off the ball," Watson said.

"It's one of the greatest blights on our game currently, that sort of behaviour."

Robertson also faces certain suspension - just before going onto Martin, he head-butted Richmond captain Trent Cotchin and was reported.

Tigers coach Damien Hardwick was unhappy with Robertson's tactics on Martin.

"When you probably get belted in the back 35 times for the game, I reckon it would be fair enough," Hardwick said.

Dusty was on fire again. Image: Getty

"We got a memo from the AFL saying if you consistently hit someone in the back, it's going to be a free kick - so that's up to the umpires to adjudicate."

Like Martin was against the Lions, Rory Sloane and Jason Johannisen have also been the victim of physical tagging throughout the season.

The Tigers superstar shrugged aside the controversy though, by claiming it's all part of the game.

"It was good fun. A bit annoying, but a bit of fun," Martin said on Fox Footy after the game.

"I don't want him (Robertson) punching me all day, but it is what it is."