Richmond legend sends pointed message to Dustin Martin as AFL exit rumours swirl

Royce Hart has urged Martin to remain a one-club player.

Richmond great Royce Hart has pleaded with Dustin Martin to recommit to the club and be a Tiger for life as he prepares to play his 300th AFL game against Hawthorn at the MCG on Saturday. Speculation has been rife that Martin will hang up the boots at some stage this year - either after his 300th game or at the end of the season.

The Richmond legend 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.

Pictured Dustin Martin
Richmond legend Dustin Martin has been urged to remain a one-club player. Image: Getty

The soon-to-be 33-year-old is yet to commit to his future beyond 2023 and will have to decide whether to sign a less lucrative deal at the Tigers, retire or search for a fourth flag at a rival club. While Hart believes Martin has a few years left in him, he has urged the Tigers great to remain a one-club player and reject offers of a fresh start elsewhere.

“I want him to be a one-club player, that’s what I would say to Dusty,” Hart told the Herald Sun. “It (loyalty) is in his nature. I have never met him (face-to-face), but he looks like a guy who would be happy to stay. I reckon if he decided to go to another club, he would feel totally out of place and it wouldn’t be good for him. He doesn’t need to be doing new things, he needs to stay where he is."

Late in 2017, Martin was on the brink of leaving for North Melbourne before he changed his mind and signed a bumper deal with Richmond. However, this time around things are looking less promising at Punt Rd.

The Tigers dynasty is a thing of the past and the club has transitioned into a new era under Adem Yze where they find themselves for the first time in almost a decade out of finals contention so early in the AFL season. And with the club likely needing at least a few years to rebuild under Yze, if Martin wants to try to win another flag before he retires it almost certainly will need to be at another club.

“He might go for the money, but I doubt it,” Hart said. “He doesn’t seem like that is the thing that drives him. He’s been on good money anyway.” He looks like he is helping out the young kids (at Richmond). I would love to see him stay and help them out for a few more years. He might not win another flag (in his time left), but he can help the young boys get better."

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 28:  Royce Hart of the Tigers holds the trophy after the VFL Grand Final between the Richmond Tigers and the North Melbourne Kangaroos at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on September 28, 1974 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Getty Images)
Royce Hart (right) hopes Dustin Martin will be a Tiger for life.

Brendan Fevola, however, believes Martin has his sights set on re-uniting with former Richmond coach Damien Hardwick on the Gold Coast. According to Fevola his manager, Ralph Carr, is looking for real estate on the Gold Coast on behalf of Martin as the Tigers legend plans to be a Suns player in 2025.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 21:  Dustin Martin and Tigers head coach Damien Hardwick shake hands before the start of the AFL Preliminary Final match between the Richmond Tigers and the Collingwood Magpies on September 21, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
Dustin Martin is reportedly keen to reunite with former mentor Damien Hardwick, who currently coaches the Gold Coast Suns.

"Dusty has been waiting for his 300th game. There’s a lot of rumours about him and next year, whether he will retire or play somewhere else," Fevola said on Fox's 'Fifi, Fev and Nick' radio show last month.

“My mail is that he will retire after he plays his 300th game. Say thank you to the Richmond fans after his 300th. Have a couple of months off. Get fit. Get his head right. His manager has been looking at real estate in the Gold Coast for Dusty to move up and re-kindle his friendship with Damien Hardwick, who now coaches the Gold Coast Suns.


"He’ll be getting paid a lot of money to go up to the Gold Coast, sit at full-forward, help those young kids. they’ve never played finals before in their history. So, they’ll get him up there and be the centre-piece of Queensland football.

“I think the (Richmond) footy club already knows he’s going to leave. They know in their heart of hearts. So, they might say, ‘Hey mate, if you’re leaving – retire. We’ll give you a retirement game.’ He’s out of contract.”