June 25, 2024

Richmond coach Adem Yze recently met with the Tigers’ superstar. Yze expressed optimism about the possibility of Dustin Martin continuing to play for another two or three years, provided he commits to spending more time in the forward line.

As Martin approaches his 33rd birthday in June and his contract expiration at the end of the season, the pressure is mounting for him to make a decision about his future. Speculation surrounding his plans has calmed down somewhat, with much attention now focused on his upcoming 300th game milestone.

In order to reach this milestone at the MCG in Round 14 against Hawthorn, Martin may need to be rested at some point within the next five weeks. Alternatively, he could reach the milestone in Round 16 against Carlton, although this scenario seems unlikely given the Tigers’ bye in Round 15.

20 things about Dustin Martin

Despite the anticipation surrounding his achievement of 300 games and the ongoing speculation about his future, Martin is being encouraged to dig deeper and push himself further.

“I recently had a productive conversation with him during the week,” Yze stated on Channel 7’s Talking Footy. “Discussions regarding his contract and decision-making will take place later in the year.”

“Our priority is ensuring he trains effectively and feels he can progress, not only for his own development but also to mentor our younger players,” Yze emphasized. “His impact at our club extends beyond his on-field performance. Assisting players like Shai Bolton in managing expectations and performing at a high level is part of his legacy.”

“All our younger players admire him and observe his training ethic; he’s an exceptional trainer,” Yze continued. “Having him continue in this role for an extended period is crucial for us as a coaching staff and as a club.”

Despite already nearing the top 10 oldest players to represent Richmond in the AFL era, Yze believes there’s a possibility that Martin, the renowned No.4, could surpass Kevin Bartlett as one of the club’s oldest players in history.

“I believe he can continue playing for another two or three years,” Yze expressed. If Martin were to play until the late 2027 season, he would approach Bartlett’s retirement age of 36 years and 174 days.”

Brent Harvey, another influential midfield-forward, concluded his career at 38 years and 119 days, joining a list of notable veterans who played beyond their 36th birthday, including Gary Ablett Jr (36 years, 163 days), David Mundy (37 years, 52 days), and Shaun Burgoyne (38 years, 304 days). Currently, the oldest player in the AFL is Scott Pendlebury, aged 36 years and just over 100 days.

Yze’s optimism regarding Martin’s longevity is partly based on his physical condition — “he still possesses his power and doesn’t lose one-on-one contests” — but it also reflects his willingness to transition away from the midfield.

“The way he impacts games may shift slightly,” Yze noted. “While his possession numbers may decrease as he ages, his ability to contribute forward and score goals forces opponents to assign a strong defender to him. Therefore, we can envision a future for him in this role.”

Star Richmond Tiger Dustin Martin in career-best shape, forward Tom Lynch's  recovery on track

This season, Martin has scored more goals (four) than clearances (three), and his number of contested possessions has decreased in recent games. Despite this, the injury-plagued Tigers are anticipating the return of Jayden Short for their upcoming match against Fremantle at the MCG on Sunday. Additionally, Noah Balta and Dion Prestia could make their return next week for another home clash against the Western Bulldogs.

 

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