Dustin Martin decision labelled 'a shame' as tricky dilemma emerges before AFL milestone

The Tigers are desperate to make the landmark occasion perfect.

Richmond coach Adam Yze faces a headache of what to do with Tigers legend Dustin Martin ahead of his 300th match. In order for the veteran forward to play his milestone match at the MCG, Richmond will need to rest him in one of the next three matches.

Martin will soon become the seventh player in the history of the club to break the 300-game barrier, currently sitting three games short of the mark. The Tigers are understood to be desperate to make the landmark occasion perfect by manipulating their three-time Norm Smith medallist's immediate workload to ensure he celebrates it at his MCG home.

Pictured left Dustin Martin and right Adam Yze
In order for Richmond legend Dustin Martin to play his 300th game at the MCG, coach Adam Yze will need to rest him for one of the next three matches. Image: Getty

However, that is a major burden to put on Yze. His side is languishing in 17th on the ladder amidst an injury crisis and if they ever needed Martin's experienced hands it is now. Not only do the Tigers need him if they are any chance of winning a second game of the season, but they could actually need him to make up numbers - such is the dire situation with an abundance of players sidelined with injuries.

Yze currently has 27 fit players to choose from and if they have any more setbacks in the coming weeks, the choice to rest Martin to ensure he has the heroes celebration he deserves at the MCG may not be possible. If the Tigers don't find a game to sit Martin out in, the Richmond legend will reach the 300-game mark away from home, and a long way away from the Tiger faithful - against the Crows at Adelaide Oval.

It’s understood Martin will refuse any interview opportunities ahead of his milestone game, something Fox Sports’ Glenn McFarlane says is 'a shame'. "There will be no press conference or interview or along those sort of lines," McFarlane said. "It is a shame. We saw a little bit of that with ‘Buddy’ (Lance Franklin). But I think we’ve seen Buddy give back in a sense, since his retirement."

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 24: Dustin Martin of the Tigers celebrates with the AFL Premiership Cup and captain Trent Cotchin of the Tigers after winning the 2020 AFL Grand Final match between the Richmond Tigers and the Geelong Cats at The Gabba on October 24, 2020 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
Dustin Martin played a pivotal role in the Tigers' golden dynasty between 2017 and 2020, during which time he won a Brownlow and three Norm Smith medals.

Martin is in the last season of the famous seven-year, multimillion-dollar deal he signed ahead of the 2017 finals series. In that time, Martin played a pivotal role in the Tigers' golden dynasty between 2017 and 2020, during which time he won a Brownlow and three Norm Smith medals.

In those years he formed an elite partnership with Trent Cotchin, Jack Riewoldt, Alex Rance, David Astbury, Kane Lambert and Bachar Houli. However, Martin is the only remaining Tiger from that premiership-winning period.

In 2024, Martin is averaging less than 20 disposals a game, compared to his career average of 24.4, and has kicked just four goals - two of those coming in the season opener against Carlton. And with the club likely needing at least a few years to rebuild under new coach Adam Yze, his former teammate, Cotchin, believes Martin - who is in the twilight years of his AFL career - may decide to retire at the end of this season.

Cotchin says he doesn't know if he has the drive to lead the embattled club into brighter times after a tough last few years off the field. "He’s definitely capable of it — I just don’t know if, (given) the place he is in right now, whether he’s got the energy to do so,” Cotchin said on Talking Footy last week. "It’s hard to comment too far on what he’s going through, but since his old man passed away, it’s been a challenge for Dusty.


"Probably getting himself right is the absolute priority, and I know that the club’s helping him with that. So, to put such a commitment on someone who needs to get himself at his best is a big call and going to be challenging."

Martin is yet to publicly announce a decision for next year. He has been linked to a move north to Gold Coast since Damien Hardwick’s appointment as Suns coach last year. The consensus is the Tigers are unlikely to offer him a new deal and if they do it wouldn't be on the kind of money he is currently on, leading many to believe that this will quite likely be his final year in the AFL.