Dustin Martin facing stint on AFL sidelines after brutal development for Richmond champion

Tigers coach Adam Yze had already flagged the possibility that Martin would be managed.

Richmond coach Adam Yze has admitted he'll have to manage Dustin Martin throughout the rest of the AFL season after the Tigers champion suffered a back issue on Sunday. Martin played a role in the Tigers' second-quarter fightback against Carlton at the MCG, but suffered back spasms in the third term and had to be substituted out of the game.

The 33-year-old, whose future beyond this season is still up in air, finished with just seven disposals in the 20.11 (131) to 10.10 (70) loss - the lowest tally of his 301-game career. It also marked the first time he's ever been subbed out of a game.

Dustin Martin, pictured here after being subbed out of Richmond's clash with Carlton.
Dustin Martin was subbed out of Richmond's clash with Carlton due to a back issue. Image: Getty

"He just seized up," Yze said after the game. "He tried to go back out there for one more rotation and he was just battling, so it was just pointless.

"I'm not sure if he's ever been subbed before but against a quality team like Carlton you need 18 fit guys out there. So for him to put his hand up and say his back's a bit too sore is a credit to him."

Dustin Martin, pictured here receiving treatment on his back.
Dustin Martin had treatment on his back but couldn't continue. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Yze had already flagged his intention to rest Martin on return from the mid-season bye, with Richmond having some short breaks leading into interstate clashes with Fremantle and Port Adelaide over the next three weeks. Martin will be given a day off before returning to Punt Road on Tuesday for further assessment ahead of the Dockers clash at Optus Stadium on Saturday night.

"Whether this is a reason why he needs to miss because he's got a tight back now - our hand might be dealt anyway," Yze said. "If he bounces out of the game OK, there's no reason why he can't play against Freo. We've just got to have those discussions and think about it more than anything."

Dustin Martin during Richmond's loss to Carlton.
Dustin Martin might be sidelined at different stages for the rest of the AFL season. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Martin battled a calf issue earlier this season, and Yze said the latest setback with his back was a "random" one. "He probably copped a knee out there, which he wouldn't have known," the coach said.

"He's a combative player and he actually helped us at centre bounce in the second quarter, so we did miss him in the second half when he went out of the game. Hopefully he's OK."

Richmond have been forced to use 41 players this season - more than any other club - due to a raft of injuries. Premiership midfielder Dion Prestia (calf) could return against Fremantle, but Tom Lynch (hamstring) is unlikely.


Martin wasn't the only high-profile player to go down injured on Sunday, with Hawthorn losing captain James Sicily. Hawthorn's fifth win in a row came at a big cost, with Sicily dislocating his shoulder again in his team's 61-point demolition of West Coast at Optus Stadium.

Sicily has a history of issues with his right shoulder, which he also popped out earlier this season. "It's feeling all right now. It was a bit sore at the start, a bit innocuous," he told Fox Sports. "I'm not really sure what to make of it yet, we'll deal with that tomorrow."

with AAP