Dustin Martin's AFL future called into question amid worrying development at Richmond

Alarming numbers paint a worrying picture for the Tigers star in 2024.

Port Adelaide great Kane Cornes and veteran AFL reporter Caroline Wilson have both cast doubts over Dustin Martin's future in the sport, amid suggestions he has "lost the hunger" at struggling Richmond. The Tigers are second from bottom and have lost five straight games, with their 91-point hammering by the Bulldogs last week the heaviest defeat by any side in the AFL this season.

The club's struggles under rookie coach Adem Yze have been mirrored by those of their three-time premiership star Martin, who's battled with form and fitness in 2024. The 32-year-old has been hampered in part by a calf injury and missed the opening round clash with the Gold Coast and the round game against the Swans.

Pictured here is Richmond Tigers AFL star Dustin Martin.
Dustin Martin's AFL future with the Richmond Tigers has come into question after an underwhelming start to the 2024 season. Pic: Getty

But the three-time Norm Smith Medallist has still featured in seven games for Richmond and they've all ended up in defeat. More alarmingly for the Tigers are Dusty's dwindling numbers, with his production way down on previous years. Martin is averaging 19.4 disposals in 2024 compared to a career average of 24.4 and has kicked just four goals so far this season, with half of them coming in the season-opening loss to Carlton.

The alarming numbers prompted a discussion around Martin's future on Channel 9’s Footy Classified on Monday night, with Cornes questioning previous comments from Yze that he wants to extend the veteran star's deal, which runs out at the end of this season. “Footy clubs aren’t a charity,” the former Port Adelaide premiership winner said.

“(Richmond coach Adem Yze) has been pretty adamant, he’s said a couple of times one of the jobs he wants to tick off is to extend Dustin Martin’s contract. Is that the right call?” Essendon great Matthew Lloyd said he doubted it was, particularly if Martin remained on big money. And he suggested Yze would need to make a tough call on the superstar.

“Adem Yze has to be stronger than he’s ever been before about what is best for Richmond,” Lloyd said. “And I’m not sure spending $750,000 on Dustin Martin is best for Richmond.” That figure was pounced on by Wilson, who insisted there was "no way" Richmond would spend more than $500,000 per season on Martin, who she claimed had lost his hunger for the game.

“$500 (thousand) absolute tops. At the moment he’s limping towards 300 (games)," Wilson said about the 296-game club legend. "He wouldn’t get any more than that, I am certain, if he’s playing the way he is now." It represents a stunning about-turn from the veteran AFL journalist who just six weeks ago challenged the assertion from Cornes that Martin should retire at the end of the current season.

Seen here, Dustin Martin is put under pressure during Richmond's AFL loss to the Western Bulldogs.
Dustin Martin is seen here being put under pressure during Richmond's AFL loss to the Western Bulldogs. Pic: Getty

“A lot’s happened in four weeks,” Wilson insisted. “He was bordering on All Australian selection last year. If he goes on the way he’s going now, and he does seem to have lost the hunger, then of course he shouldn’t go on next year. Of course. Dustin Martin had had a couple of promising games back then. He’s had a shocking month.”

Speculation around Martin's future comes after his manager Ralph Carr fired back at suggestions from ex-AFL reporter Tony Sheahan last month that the Richmond legend was contemplating retirement. “Dustin at this point has no intention of retiring and he has never lost his love for AFL football,” he told the Herald Sun last month.


“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. 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.”