Richmond in telling Dustin Martin move amid Damien Hardwick reports at Suns

The Tigers have played down speculation that Dustin Martin could be on the move.

Pictured Dustin Martin and Damien Hardwick
The Richmond Tigers have dismissed rumours that Dustin Martin could leave the Tigers to reunite with his former coach Damien Hardwick at the Gold Coast Suns. Image: Getty

Richmond are confident Dustin Martin will turn down the opportunity to reunite with Damien Hardwick at the Gold Coast Suns to stay at the Tigers. Rumours have been swirling that the Norm Smith medalist may look to finish his career on the Gold Coast but Richmond want to make Martin a Tiger for life.

Martin is currently signed to a lucrative seven-year, $9 million deal which was agreed with Richmond in 2017 and will run out at the end of next season, at which point he can become an unrestricted free agent. After Hardwick’s mid-season departure from Punt Road, speculation grew about Martin moving to join his former coach, with rumours only intensifying when the pair were spotted together on the Gold Coast.

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Hardwick and Martin both began their respective careers together at Richmond in 2010 and were both instrumental in the club’s three flag triumphs in 2017, 2019 and 2020. Martin is set to play his 300th game in the upcoming season and will be under new leadership at the Tigers with Adem Yze taking over.

Tigers CEO Brendon Gale played down talks he could leave the club stating that they are in talks with Martin over a new deal. “Dustin is a great of our club and fully invested in helping us write the next chapter – clearly we will have discussions with his management in the not too distant future,” Gale told The Herald Sun.

“2024 will be a really exciting year for both the club and himself. His 300th game will be a great occasion but knowing Dustin he will be far more focused on the regeneration of this team under (new coach) Adem Yze. He played some exceptional football last season. Change creates energy and I have no doubt Dustin feels that – he is a really important and valued part of our club.”

Martin is coming off a stellar 2023 campaign where he averaged 23.6 disposals and 1.1 goals from 20 games to finish runner-up in the Tigers’ best and fairest.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 24: Trent Cotchin and Dustin Martin of the Tigers (right) celebrate during the 2020 Toyota AFL Grand Final match between the Richmond Tigers and the Geelong Cats at The Gabba on October 24, 2020 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Trent Cotchin lifts lid on relationship with Martin

Retired Richmond legend Trent Cotchin recently lifted the lid on his relationship with Dustin Martin, who he said is the polar opposite of him. Cotchin admitted that when Martin came to the club in 2010 he "didn't want to associate" with him due to his appearance and persona.

It was the same time as when Ben Cousins was at the club, with the former West Coast star banned for 12 months after being arrested for drug possession in Perth before hanging up his boots at the conclusion of the 2010 season. “It’s kind of black and white. The tattoo guy that has a little bit of attitude comes across like he doesn’t give a s**t to anything or anyone in the world,” Cotchin told Sarah Grynberg on her A Life Of Greatness podcast.

“And then I’m this other guy trying to make everyone happy and no tattoos and pretty cleanskin kind of guy. Less partying And when he first came in it was kind of like, he had the tattoo that was on the back of all the Ben Cousins stuff.

"I think Dusty’s said ‘Live free, die free’, obviously 'Cuzzy' had ‘Such is life’ across his stomach. So he already had been tarred with this bad-boy brush, which I kind of didn’t want to associate with, to be fair."

Cotchin said although it was clear Martin was talented and they would forge a friendship on the field he believed off it they weren't going to be mates. However, after learning of Martin's backstory and getting to know him more, the pair formed an unlikely friendship.

“What made it so beautiful, kind of understanding each other and learning more about him and what made him tick and then establishing how connected he is to this spiritual part of the world, which I don’t think anyone would ever believe me," Cotchin said.

The former Richmond captain said the pair built a close bond when his wife Brooke invited Martin to move in with them after he got in several off-field scuffles, namely threatening a woman with a chopstick at a Melbourne restaurant back in December 2015.

“He obviously liked the idea and came along and I think that was a period in his life when he was probably in one of his lower points,” Cotchin said. “I’ll never forget the day that his old man came over as well because Shane was a humungous Maori man, tattoos all over his face, his body, so a pretty scary and daunting kind of character. But for whatever reason, when he walked in our door I felt so much safer in my own home.”

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