‘Never lost his love’: Dustin Martin’s manager shuts down retirement rumour

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Dustin Martin’s manager Ralph Carr has shut down speculation the Richmond champion was set to walk away from the game before his 300th games.

The rumour mill has been spinning for several days after Kane Cornes began arguing across his SEN and Footy Classified shows that Martin should call 2024 his final season.

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But speaking on Wayne Carey’s The Truth Hurts podcast, co-host Tony Sheahan kicked the speculation train into overdrive when he suggested Martin wouldn’t make his 300th game.

Currently at 292 games, Martin is set to reach the magical 300-game milestone against Hawthorn in round 14 at the MCG barring injury or suspension according to Nine’s Tom Morris.

But Carr has rubbished the rumours of an immediate exit from the game, telling the Herald Sun’s Mark Robinson there were no plans for Martin to quit the sport.

“Dustin at this point has no intention of retiring, and he has never lost his love for AFL football,” Carr told the Herald Sun.

“The Richmond Football Club, the AFL and family has been an incredible support to him and I personally know that he wants to stay in the game as long as possible.

“I also want to thank all supporters of the game for supporting ‘the people’s champion’ Dustin Martin.”

The report added that Carr told Carey on Monday night that there was no truth to the rumour.

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.

Speaking on The Truth Hurts, Sheahan said: “I’m hearing some shocking information out of Tigerland.

“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’.”

Carey replied to the rumour saying: “This is news to me” but said that for a champion like Martin, the milestones of playing 300 probably didn’t matter as much as it does to other players.

“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.

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.”