Dusty’s ‘legacy’ keeping star Tiger hungry

AFL Rd 7 - Richmond v Melbourne
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 24: Dustin Martin of the Tigers celebrates a goal during the 2024 AFL Round 07 match between the Richmond Tigers and the Melbourne Demons at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 24, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Richmond living legend Dustin Martin might be finding it tough to be playing in a side that is going through a rebuild like the Tigers currently are.

But coach Adem Yze said the triple premiership champion’s “lasting legacy” would be his ability to fast-track the development of the club’s younger players.

“I think if you look at Shai Bolton’s form, Dusty’s got a fair bit to say in the way that he’s playing,” Yze said.

“He’s trying to impart his knowledge so the lasting legacy that Dustin Martin can have at this footy club is upskilling our younger players.

“So Shai looks up to him, a lot of our younger forwards look up to him, so for him to be able to teach them at training and obviously give them some insights on high performance and the way that he did it, like, they just soak it up.

“So if he could do that for our players for the next few years would be a lasting legacy and I know he enjoys it, but our players are just soaking that up.”

AFL Rd 7 -  Richmond v Melbourne
Dustin Martin of the Tigers celebrates with Shai Bolton. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Not only is the Tigers’ season already all but over before May, but they are contending with a lengthy injury list as well.

However, amid all the doom and gloom, Yze is looking to the future with enthusiasm as he focuses on his side’s “silver lining”.

The Tigers have been battling to field a competitive side in recent weeks with Jayden Short (calf), Tom Lynch (hamstring), Tim Taranto (wrist), Dion Prestia (hamstring), Noah Balta (knee), Jack Ross (foot) and Josh Gibcus (knee) all unavailable and now Jacob Hopper (hamstring) also looks set for a stint on the sidelines.

But the opportunity those big-name absentees are giving some of Richmond’s Tiger cubs has made Yze optimistic.

“I’m envisaging six weeks’ time when we get a lot of our players back. The selection is going to be really hard based on what our young players are showing,” Yze said.

“They’re getting opportunity through adversity and to watch Thomson Dow today (against Melbourne) play against a quality midfield felt like he took a step forward in his career.

“Seth Campbell is getting opportunities, Maurice Rioli jnr - he looks powerful, he looks dangerous around goals.

“So the more that we can give those guys opportunity, which we have to right now, the future’s going to be bright for them when we get everyone back available.

AFL Rd 7 - Richmond v Melbourne
Dustin Martin after another loss (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

“There is a silver lining the fact they’re getting an opportunity. Tom Brown is taking his game step by step.”

Yze was rapt with Maurice Rioli’s progress, but stressed he had a long way to go if he wanted to realise his goal of becoming one of the most dangerous small forwards in the league.

“His pressure and intensity and work rate is very good,” Yze said.

“And he did finish a couple of times today but there’ll be opportunities that he’s going to look at and go, ‘Kozzy Pickett finishes his work’, and that’s where he’s got to get to.”

Hugo Ralphsmith played his second game for the year on Wednesday night and produced arguably the best match of his career with a personal best 21 disposals on a wing against premiership star Ed Langdon.

“He not only held his own but he looked like an A-grade winger today for sure,” Yze said.