'Never go away': Dustin Martin dogged by persistent AFL rumours

·Sports Reporter
Questions remain about whether or not Dustin Martin still harbours a desire yto play for on the the two Sydney based AFL teams before his career is over. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)
Questions remain about whether or not Dustin Martin still harbours a desire yto play for on the the two Sydney based AFL teams before his career is over. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Try as he might, it's the persistent AFL rumour that simply won't go away - could Dustin Martin make a shock switch from the Richmond Tigers?

Both the Tigers and Martin have fended off such rumours for several years now, but another off-season spent in Sydney has again fuelled speculation the former Norm Smith medallist could one day look to head north.

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After an injury-interrupted premiership defence in 2021, the Tigers are looking to come back strong.

Martin has spent much of his off-season based in Sydney, having grown up in the suburb of Camden with his father.

The 30-year-old has spent much of that time training with former rugby great Sonny Bill Williams, who is busy preparing for a long-awaiting boxing showdown with former AFL player Barry Hall.

Not one with much tolerance for Melbourne's AFL media bubble, Martin has frequently sought to escape the footy-mad city when possible - prompting the Sunday Telegraph's Buzz Rothfield to suggest this as the reason why rumours of a potential Richmond departure will likely never really ease.

"Martin loves life in Sydney away from the AFL fishbowl during the off-season each year," Rothfield wrote.

"It’s why the rumour will never go away that he will leave his beloved Richmond Tigers and finish his career at either the Swans or GWS Giants."

Those rumours were fuelled earlier in 2021, when Martin's manager Ralph Carr said in February that the Tigers star had 'two years to go at Richmond', despite him being contracted until the end of the 2024 season.

The comments prompted Tigers CEO Brendan Gale to clarify that Martin was under contract for three more years.

“Dusty loves Sydney,” Carr said.

“He’s there a lot and he originally lived in Camden with his dad. You’ve got to live there to really know how good it is.

“He loves rugby league, too, and he was hanging out with Cameron Munster the other day.”

North star Cunnington has cancer setback

Meanwhile, North Melbourne star Ben Cunnington has had a setback in his cancer battle and needs a nine-week course of chemotherapy.

But the AFL club says the midfielder is expected to make a full recovery.

The Kangaroos said in a statement on Saturday that a routine post-surgery check had detected a secondary cancer.

One of North's most popular players, Cunnington had surgery in July for a testicular tumour.

In August, Carlton co-captain Sam Docherty also needed chemotherapy after a secondary cancer was discovered.

Like Cunnington, the setback came after Docherty had surgery late last year for testicular cancer.

The dual club best and fairest winner has played 227 games for North since his 2010 AFL debut.

He managed 19 games this season, but was diagnosed with cancer in July and had to stop playing after round 19 because of his operation.

North Melbourne fan favourite Ben Cunnington has had a setback in his treatment for cancer. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)
North Melbourne fan favourite Ben Cunnington has had a setback in his treatment for cancer. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Cunnington finished runner-up in the club best and fairest voting and made an emotional speech at the online event in early October.

Never noted for his public speaking, Cunnington thanked those who had supported him during his health crisis.

"For some reason, I'm getting a bit emotional, even though I didn't even win it ... I'm not good with this stuff," he said.

"Just to have the support from the club, the players and my beautiful family — I couldn't have done it without them.

"You think you're a bit more alone, but the support everyone at the top of the club to the fans stuck at home, it's been huge.

"It actually helps me smile and makes me want to keep continue playing for this great club. It means more than I ever thought."

Cunnington's news comes the day after the Kangaroos announced they were debt-free for the first time since 1987, with former coach Dani Laidley making a rare public appearance to help celebrate the milestone.

With AAP

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