‘Threatening to walk away’: Dustin Martin retirement rumour stuns AFL

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The Dustin Martin rumour mill has continued to spin into overdrive as speculation grows the AFL champion is potentially going to call it quits on his career.

Martin, 32, is one of the greats of the modern era, having claimed the Norm Smith Medal in each of the Tigers’ 2017, 2019 and 2020 premierships.

He’s also a four-time All-Australian and 2017 Brownlow Medallist with 292 games under his belt.

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But in recent times, the speculation has been all about his future in the game.

Recently, former Port Adelaide player turned media personality Kane Cornes suggested the time was right for Martin to walk away from the game.

The call was laughed off but AFL reporter Tony Sheahan has revealed Martin is potentially eyeing an exit in the immediate future.

Speaking on The Truth Hurts Podcast with Wayne Carey, the podcast co-host said he had heard Martin was ready to hang up the boots.

“I’m hearing some shocking information out of Tigerland,” Sheahan began.

“My understanding is that Dustin Martin is threatening to walk away, wants to finish on a high.

“He’s played 292 games, he played a good game yesterday against St Kilda, he was the number one possession getter on the ground until halftime with 20 possessions. They weren’t great possessions. He’s not the Dusty we used to know, the best player in the competition, Brownlows, Norm Smiths, all that sort of stuff.

“But my understanding is that Richmond is in a tug of war about keeping Dusty in a Richmond jumper until he can make 300 games.

“As I’ve said, he’s played 292 as of yesterday. He’s told friends and family he can’t do it anymore. He wants to walk away.

“He’s fed up, can’t dealt with it, but Richmond, as I said, is grappling with the fact that he could walk away and they’re saying ‘you’ll regret this for the rest of your life if you don’t play 300 games. Just get to 300 and then we’ll work out what you want to do for the length of your contract and/or all the rest of this year’.”

In reacting to the suggestion, Carey said “this is news to me” but he didn’t think Martin would really care about the milestone.

“So he’s human,” Carey said. “He has been an unbelievably good player, but if he was to finish up at the end of the year or go away or find another club or whatever it may be, then he has the right to do that. I think he’s done enough in this game for us.

“The thing that people don’t understand about Dustin Martin and very few players are like him in the competition — probably Lance Franklin would be the only other one in modern times — can’t go anywhere in Australia without being recognised.

“This guy is a bit like Buddy, he’s quite shy — Buddy didn’t start out shy but in the end because of the star power that came along with being the best player in the comp for a long period of time — it’s very hard to understand what it is to live like that.”

Carey said that it would be hard to find people to trust and that he may be dealing with the loss of his father Shane in December 2021.

The footy great added he “wouldn’t be surprised if this was his last year”, although conceded his form showed he was still able to perform on the biggest stage.

“You’re not in the sort of condition that Dusty is in and still playing the type of footy that he’s playing — yes he’s not grabbing games by the scruff of the neck like he used to and winning games, but he’s still an unbelievably good player,” Carey added.

Sheahan argued that having 300 against his name “looks far better than 292” but Carey argued that Martin “doesn’t need 300 to hang his hat on”.

It leads on from Cornes’ call for Martin to make 2024 his final season, arguing “there’s nothing left for him to achieve”.

“Is he prepared to dig in for another pre-season at the age of 33,” Cornes said on Nine’s Footy Classified last week.

“In a rebuilding group who is probably going to lose every third week, that’s the question you’ve got to ask.

“It’s poignant because it’s game 300, it would give him the greatest send off ever. He’s going to be a legend of the Australian Football Hall of Fame.

“He’s done everything what more is there for him to turn up on a Monday. Is he motivated to do that … I don’t know.”

Martin had his best game of the season in the Tigers’ 9.13 (67) to 9.6 (60) loss to St Kilda, which left the club languishing in 14th on the AFL ladder with a 1-3 record in 2024.

Martin had 30 disposals, second only in the match to St Kilda’s Jack Steel, bouncing back from disappointing outings in his opening two matches.

But rookie coach Adem Yze said before the St Kilda match that Martin was important for the team.

“Having Dustin back in the side is a great thing for our team – he’ll still have a mixture of inside midfield time and forward, Shai (Bolton) is doing the same,” Yze said.

“We’ll look at the balance of our team … but to have him available is great for our group.”

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