Dustin Martin

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Dustin Martin
Dustin Martin 2017.3.jpg
Martin playing for Richmond in 2017
Personal information
Full name Dustin Martin
Nickname(s) Dusty
Date of birth (1991-06-26) 26 June 1991 (age 27)
Place of birth Castlemaine, Victoria
Original team(s) Bendigo Pioneers (TAC Cup)
Draft No. 3, 2009 national draft
Debut Round 1, 2010, Richmond
vs. Carlton, at the MCG
Height 187 cm (6 ft 2 in)
Weight 92 kg (203 lb)
Position(s) Midfielder / forward
Club information
Current club Richmond
Number 4
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
2010– Richmond 193 (207)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of round 17, 2018.
Career highlights
Sources: AFL Tables, AustralianFootball.com

Dustin Martin (born 26 June 1991) is a professional Australian rules footballer playing for the Richmond Football Club in the Australian Football League (AFL). Martin grew up in Castlemaine, Victoria, and as a junior played for the Castlemaine Football Club and the Bendigo Pioneers. He was drafted by Richmond with the third pick in the 2009 national draft, and made his debut for the club in round one of the 2010 season. He was nominated for the 2010 AFL Rising Star award, but was ineligible to win due to suspension.

Martin has been a fixture in Richmond's line-up since his debut. After becoming a household name in his first few seasons, Martin won the Jack Dyer Medal as Richmond's best and fairest player in 2016, along with his first All-Australian selection.

In 2017, Martin had what was described by AFL legend Leigh Matthews as the greatest ever individual season, despite constant media speculation over his playing future: he won the league's highest individual honour, the Brownlow Medal, with a record 36 votes, and also won the Leigh Matthews Trophy, the AFL Coaches Association's Champion Player of the Year, his second All-Australian selection, a premiership and the Norm Smith Medal as the best afield in the 2017 AFL Grand Final, among other accolades. By achieving this feat, Martin became the first player to win a Brownlow Medal, premiership and Norm Smith Medal in a single season. He then capped off his season by winning the Gary Ayres Award as the best player in that year's finals series, along with his second Jack Dyer Medal.

Early life and junior football[edit]

Martin was born in Castlemaine, Victoria to a Māori father, Shane Martin, and an Australian mother, Kathy Knight.[1][2] He is one of three boys, alongside brothers Tyson and Bronson.[3]

Martin first took up football at age six, learning the sport with the local Auskick program.[3] He would also play regularly with his brothers on their self-constructed field in one of the paddocks at his family’s three acre home in Yapeen.[2] From there he played junior football for Campbell’s Creek, before spending time with the Bendigo Pioneers under 15 squad.[2][4]

His parents split up when he was 14 and Martin chose to move to Sydney with his father, leaving school after Year 9 and taking up full-time work instead.[1] He worked various roles at his father’s transport business including as a forklift driver while also assisting his father's girlfriend's sports apparel business.[1] In total he worked regular twelve hour days, later saying he hated “working long days” in what was “not a very good job.”[5] While in Sydney he continued to play football, starting off with the Ingleburn Magpies junior Australian football club under 16 side. He stayed for just four matches however, dominating so comprehensively he was moved to the Campbelltown Football Club’s under 18's team despite being aged only 15.[4][3] He even played for the club’s senior team on one occasion that year.[1] At this time he enquired about joining the Sydney Swans junior academy, but found himself ineligible having not lived in Sydney for the minimum three years.[4]

I remember his power, his ability to surge and his skills on either side of the body. It seemed there was nothing he couldn’t do.

Francis Jackson, Richmond recruiting manager, on his memory of Martin aged 16[3]

After a year in Sydney, Martin moved back to Victoria to live with his mother by late December 2007.[4] He did not return to school however, instead working three days a week for a local electrical contractor before a short stint as stonemason.[3] In addition to some time playing cricket as a fast bowler for Guildford, Martin returned to his goal of playing AFL football.[3] He trained with Castlemaine’s senior side over his first summer back and within four matches had impressed enough to be asked back into the Bendigo Pioneer’s junior program.[1][4] He continued to play for Castlemaine for most of the season, winning the Bendigo Football League’s rising star award that year.[6] He also played four matches for the Pioneers TAC Cup team in a month that began to earn him the attention of AFL recruiters.[1]

He returned to the Pioneers side the following year and became a stand-out player. Across 11 games with Bendigo, Martin would average 24.7 disposals and 9.7 contested possessions.[1][6] He also ranked first at the club for disposals, contested possessions, clearances, inside 50s and score assists despite playing so few games, and placed second at the club’s best and fairest awards night.[6] Martin went on to be named at centre in the TAC Cup’s team of the year.[6]

At an earlier age Martin was overlooked for state representative football, missing out on the 2007 under 16 national championships as well as at the under 18 carnival the next year.[6] Martin did however play for Victoria Country in the 2009 AFL Under 18 Championships, averaging 21.4 touches, 7.2 contested possessions and 0.8 goals in the five games he played.[6] In the final match of the competition, he recorded twenty-eight disposals and five clearances against Western Australia.[1] He was rewarded for his efforts at the championships with a selection at centre in the tournament's All-Australian team.[1]

AFL recruitment[edit]

Martin gained the attention of AFL scouts from as early as 2008, with Sydney’s recruiting boss Kinnear Beatson contacting Martin in an attempt to commit him to the club. This was on the back of a previous attempt to join the club’s junior academy program. He was however just two months too young to qualify for that year’s draft and remained ineligible for the Swans’ academy program.[5] When his draft year arrived in 2009 the Swans were again interested in drafting him, hoping he would fall to their selection at number six.[5] That was on the back of an impressive draft camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra in October of that year. He recorded strong results at the camp, finishing equal second in the kicking efficiency test as well as running the 20 metre sprint in 2.89 seconds, the second fastest at the camp.[1][7] He also placed seventh in the repeat sprints test and scored 14.3 on the beep test despite initial questions over his endurance ability.[8] He was described at the time by The Age draft expert Emma Quayle as “a strong-bodied, strong-minded midfielder who keeps his feet, can slip tackles, kick with both feet and go forward to take a mark.”[9] When Richmond officials became certain Melbourne (who held picks number one and two in the draft) would select other players before Martin, they travelled to his Bendigo home to inform him that they would be certain to secure him with their pick.[8]

AFL career[edit]

2010 season[edit]

Martin was drafted by Richmond with the club's first pick and third selection overall in the 2009 AFL draft.[10]

He arrived at the club as an incredibly shy and underdeveloped personality, a fact that was noted by teammate Trent Cotchin who said though Martin was 18 “he seemed much younger in some of the ways he behaved.”[11] Indeed, he struggled initially to adjust to the expectations of professional football. In one incident in the 2010 preseason he was removed from training and verbally reprimanded by club leadership when he was deemed unfit to train after a big night out.[11] Despite these struggles, his on-field development was such that he would still debut in the 2010 season's opening match, a 56-point Richmond loss against Carlton at the MCG.[12] Martin recorded the sixth most disposals of any Tiger (18) to go along with four marks, three tackles and three clearances.[13] Two weeks later Martin was convicted by the AFL tribunal for a high hit on Sydney's Josh Kennedy in round 3. He did not receive a suspension for the incident however, returning to football the following week.[5] After four matches Martin ranked fourth in the league for clearances and eighth for hard-ball gets.[14] Media reports emerged after round 8 that the 18 year old Martin had received a significant contract offer from expansion club the Greater Western Sydney Giants.[15] The offer, which the Herald Sun’s Mark Robinson claimed to be worth $2.4 million over three seasons, would have taken effect in the new club’s first AFL season in 2012. [15] Martin later said he had never entertained the idea of moving to the start-up club.[16] In round 10 he had gained attention for his on-field efforts again, this time being nominated for the 2010 AFL Rising Star award after a 21 disposal and 11 clearance match against Port Adelaide.[10][13] Due to his previous tribunal conviction however, Martin was ruled ineligible for the award and thus did not officially place in the end of season award's points tally.[17] He drew the attention of Sydney coach Paul Roos by round 14, prompting Roos to send veteran Brett Kirk onto Martin in a tagging role.[10] Despite this extra attention, he still managed to record 18 disposals and a goal in the match at the MCG.[18] After 17 rounds Martin ranked second at the club for clearances and inside 50s as well as third for disposals and contested possessions.[10] At the same time he ranked first among that season’s Rising Star nominees in clearances, contested possessions and inside 50s. He was also fourth for average disposals and fifth for average tackles.[10] In round 19 he was rested by the club before returning to play out the final five matches of the season.[19][20] He missed just that one game in his debut season and finished the year ranked second at Richmond for clearances and inside 50s, as well as third for both contested possessions and disposals.[10] In addition to winning the Fred Swift Medal for fourth place at the club's best and fairest night, Martin also received six votes in the Brownlow Medal count that year, the most by any Richmond debutant since Craig Lambert in 1988.[21][22] At season’s end he reiterated his commitment to the club (and rejection of the former GWS overtures) by signing a two-year contract extension that would keep him at Richmond until the end of the 2013 season.[16] The extension was reported by the Herald Sun to be in the vicinity of $400,000-a-year.[23]

2011 season[edit]

Ahead of his second season Martin switched playing numbers, losing 36 in favour of the number 4 guernsey, one of the club’s most famous. He told media members assembled at the announcement that he hoped to be the next Richmond man to win a premiership in the guernsey, with it having been worn in each of the club’s 10 previous league premierships.[24] Upon returning to training however he received markedly less praise from coach Damien Hardwick, who berated him for being out of shape and not sticking to his off-season training program.[25][26] Any lingering effect had seemingly warn off by March though, as Martin returned straight back into the club’s best-22 for the season’s opening match.[20] In round 5 the Daily Telegraph said Martin "single handedly destroyed" North Melbourne in his side’s victory at Etihad Stadium. He kicked four goals and recorded 33 disposals in what was Richmond’s first win of the season.[27] Though it was his first career game with more than 30 disposals to his name, it wasn’t even his last of the month, with Martin going to record 35 touches and a goal in a win over the Brisbane Lions the very next week.[28] By then he had begun receiving comparisons to former Adelaide Brownlow Medallist Mark Ricciuto for his ball winning strength and his ability to kick goals in a midfielder’s role.[21] Fairfax Media’s Jake Niall also went so far as to suggest Martin should in consideration for All Australian selection that year despite it being just his second season at AFL level.[21] On the back of this newfound praise and his previous two matches, Martin received the extra attention of a tag in round 7’s match-up with Fremantle. Martin later spoke of seeking advice from teammates Nathan Foley and Trent Cotchin on learning how to break free of a tag.[16] After 11 rounds Martin ranked tenth in the league for total kicks and fifth for handball receives. In addition he was ranked 10th in the league for score involvements at 29 per cent.[5] Later that season he would have his best single-game goalkicking performance when he booted five majors against Brisbane in a round 13 victory at the Gabba.[29]

Martin did not miss a match in 2011, finishing the year ranked third at the club for goals kicked with a total of 33 over his 22 matches.[30] He also ranked third for disposals, second for inside 50s and fourth for total clearances.[30] Martin doubled his previous year’s Brownlow Medal vote tally to 12 and also improved upon his Jack Dyer Medal standing, placing third at the club’s best and fairest night and receiving the Maurie Fleming Medal as a result.[31][20]

2012 season[edit]

Coming into the 2012 season, Martin was fitter than he had ever been before, placing sixth in the club's 3.8 kilometre run around Melbourne's Tan track.[26] He started the season proper out strongly too, scoring two goals and adding 16 disposals in round 1's loss to Carlton.[32] In round 5 he received his only best-on-group recognition of the year, picking up the maximum three Brownlow Medal votes with his two goals and 26 disposals in Richmond's loss to West Coast.[33] Four weeks later he notched his first 30-plus disposal match of the year, raking in 32 touches along with two goals in a win over eventual grand finalists Hawthorn.[34] On 3 July 2012, Martin and teammate Daniel Connors missed a mandatory training session at the club. According to a statement released by Richmond, the pair had overslept after taking sleeping tables the night before, medication that had been prescribed only to Connors.[35] Martin also admitted to having been drinking alcohol that night. The club said both had failed to uphold team standards and Martin was suspended for two matches for the incident. Meanwhile, Connors, who was on a final warning for indiscretions under coach Hardwick, was sacked.[36] Martin returned to AFL football in round 17 after concluding what captain Chris Newman labelled a "mini-pre-season" in which he completed multiple dawn training sessions.[37] Martin played in each of the club's seven remaining matches that season and recorded 20 more disposals in five of those matches.[20] Martin placed tenth in the club's best and fairest count that year, his lowest finish to date.[38] He ranked sixth at the club for contested possessions and disposals as well as fifth in clearances.[39]

2013 season[edit]

Martin playing against Essendon in round 9, 2013

Rumours concerning possible off-field misconduct circulated during the 2013 pre-season to the point where they became the dominant talking-point for Richmond players and staff during the summer.[40][41] Former captain Chris Newman refused to address questions concerning the negative rumours, while coach Hardwick and new captain Trent Cotchin reiterated Martin's strong on-field pre-season preparations.[42][43][44] In any case, Martin was at the same time taken under the wing of new Richmond assistant coach Mark Williams who was tasked with supporting Martin off-field and in building structure and life skills for Martin when away from the strict processes of the club itself.[45][42][46] By the season's start Martin was in strong footballing form, arguably in his side's best players at half-time of both rounds 1 and 2. Second half drop-offs saw his performance's end disappointingly however.[47] In round 3 he turned in a complete four-quarter performance though, lodging 35 disposals and seven inside-50s and kicking two goals.[47][48] He reached 30 disposals for a second time in round 7 before kicking three goals in the second half of a match against Melbourne in round 8 to help Richmond to their fifth win of the season.[20][49] In round 12 he kicked a season best four goals in a win over Adelaide.[50] Between rounds 17 and 19 Martin turned in three consecutive games with more than 30 disposals, his first such stretch in his young career.[20] At the end of round 19 Martin was averaging 24.5 disposals per game.[46] By the end of the home and away season Martin had played in all of Richmond's matches, including its 15 wins. That total saw the club finish fifth in the league and qualify for its first finals series in 12 years.[51] During an elimination final loss to Carlton Martin recorded six inside 50s, a goal and 19 disposals in a 20-point knock-out loss.[52] He also attracted the ire of the league's head office after celebrating a goal with a handcuff gesture to the crowd. Martin was issued a $2,000 fine that was suspended for two years.[53] He later revealed the gesture had been in support of a friend who was incarcerated at the time.[54] Martin finished the year second to only captain Trent Cotchin in disposals at the club and posted the second most score involvements of any player in the league that season.[55] In addition he was selected in the inaugural AFL Players Association 22under22 team, an annual award recognising the best young talent in the AFL. He was at the same time, chosen to the retrospectively selected 2012 team.[56][57] In addition, he recorded his best Brownlow Medal performance to date (16 votes) as well as his highest-yet finish at the club's best and fairest, securing the Jack Titus medal for second place.[58]

Following the conclusion of Richmond's season, Martin began a highly publicised test of the market for his playing services as he came out of his second AFL contract. To that stage he had already rejected all of Richmond's early contract offers.[59] On 13 September, Richmond issued a statement announcing Martin would be pursuing contract offers from other clubs.[60] Six days later Martin was filmed by news media as he met with Greater Western Sydney officials and toured the club's training and administration facilities.[61] The Giants ruled themselves out of a pursuit of Martin the very next day however, leaving Martin with very few options other than Richmond. Melbourne, the other front-runner to secure him, had pulled out the race the day prior.[62] Around this time media reports emerged suggesting the issue was primarily monetary, with Martin and his management rejecting Richmond's offer of roughly $500,000 per season in favour of a deal around six hundred thousand at another club.[63] The day before a Richmond-imposed decision deadline was to expire, Martin met with Essendon officials and coaches to discuss a potential move.[64] Despite the meeting Martin would ultimately make the decision to stay, signing a new two-year deal on 30 September.[65]

2014 season[edit]

Despite the contract stoush the year previous, Martin was welcomed back to the club with open arms by coach Hardwick, who lamented the public nature of the contract dispute but said Martin was "going to learn from his mistakes" and that he would "realise that (the club) is the place where he always wanted to be."[66] Though the club started the year with a loss to the Gold Coast, round 2's victory over Carlton at the MCG saw Martin kick two goals and add 21 disposals. He was also reported for striking the Blues' Simon White in the third quarter of the match but was ultimately cleared due to what the AFL's Match Review Panel labelled insufficient use of force.[67][68] In round 5 Martin kicked three goals in a win over the Brisbane Lions. Despite his impact and the club's recent scoring troubles, Hardwick ruled out a full-time move forward, saying Martin was too dynamic and too effective in the midfield to restrict him to a single role.[69] Round 10's win over the GWS Giants saw Martin record a then career-best 36 disposals while two weeks later he added four goals in a losing match against North Melbourne.[20] Though he had been trialed across half-back and up forward that season, it was at this point that Martin declared he wanted to become one of the elite midfielders of the competition.[70] After 16 rounds Martin was showing real progress towards that end, averaging 27 disposals and having kicked 18 goals. What's more, he had been restricted to fewer than 20 disposals on just two occasions.[71] By July, the Herald Sun's Jon Ralph said Martin was "maturing into one of the league’s most damaging footballers."[19] Champion Data statistics released in mid-August revealed Martin to be the league's best one-on-one player, winning 15 of his 27 contests that year. At 56%, his win rate more than doubled the league average of 26%.[72] After seven straight wins saw Richmond go from cellar dwellers to finals contenders, a hamstring strain saw Martin miss the club's must-win match against St Kilda in round 22, his first miss through injury of his entire career to date.[73] The club managed a win despite his absence and Martin returned for the round 23 win over Sydney that saw Richmond into the finals for a second straight season.[74] A road trip elimination final against Port Adelaide would prove too much for his side however, as Martin recorded 29 disposals in the club's 57-point loss.[75] After playing 22 matches that season Martin set a career-best mark for disposals for the second year running and finished second at the club for inside 50s.[76] Though he did not make the final team, he received his first nomination to the All-Australian squad of 40 players and entered the club's best and fairest count as favourite to win.[77] He ultimately received the Maurie Fleming medal by placing third in the award in addition to recording the second highest number of Brownlow Medal votes of any player at Richmond that year.[78]

2015 season[edit]

Martin avoided the contract intrigue that surrounded him two years earlier by signing a new two-year contract extension in February 2015, eight months before his current deal was to expire.[79][80] Also prior to round 1, Martin was issued a challenged by coach Hardwick, to utilise his improved running capacity to play a majority midfield role as well as improving his contested ball winning and tackling in the mould of Essendon captain Jobe Watson.[81] He got off to a slow start however, kept to just 13 disposals thanks to a defensive tag by his Carlton opponents in round 1.[82] Martin returned to his dominant best by round 2 though, gathering 31 disposals against the Western Bulldogs.[83] He achieved the 30-plus mark on two more occasions in the next four weeks.[20] In round 10 Martin was best-afield in Richmond's fourth straight win, recording 34 disposals, five tackles and a goal against Fremantle at Domain Stadium.[84] After that match which marked the midpoint of the season, Martin was in significant form and featured in the top-five Richmond players in 12 of 15 major statistical categories including first place in both total disposals and total inside 50s.[85] He had also lifted his contested possession (9.67 per game), tackle (4.0) and disposal (26.56) counts to career-high levels.[84] He closed the season strongly too, kicking four lots of three goals over the remaining 12 home and away matches.[20] Richmond's 91-point victory over Collingwood in round 21 was marred by a crowd incident though in which Martin celebrated a goal by displaying an obscene finger gesture to members of the Collingwood cheer squad.[86] He was ordered by the AFL to pay a $2,000 fine for the action, the same fine that was suspended for a crowd gesture in 2013.[87] For the third straight season Martin's side qualified for the finals and for the third time were knocked out in an elimination final. This time Martin recorded 21 disposals in the 17 point loss to North Melbourne at the MCG.[88] Martin topped the club for disposals and inside 50s in 2015 and again narrowly missed a club best and fairest, this time placing second behind defender Alex Rance.[89][90] He also placed seventh in the Brownlow Medal tally in 2015, the best result of any Tiger that year.[91] He posted a then-career best 21 votes, despite not polling for the first seven weeks of the season.[92] Martin was again nominated to the All-Australian squad of 40 players but would fail to make final selection for the second-straight season.[93]

2016 season[edit]

Martin at the Richmond Football Club's Family Day in December 2016

After seeing his reputation diminished by a tumultuous off-season in which he came under police investigation, Martin focused on making continual on-field improvements.[94] He remained highly rated in the eyes of his peers though, placing 20th in a poll of all AFL players held to judge the best players in the league.[95] Martin further impressed club officials by mid February, starring in an intraclub practice match.[96] As his club started the season 1-6 on the wins table, Martin too looked less than his best.[97][98] This despite 30-plus disposal matches (each with a goal too) in rounds 2 and 6.[99][20] Richmond would find a patch of form beginning in round 8 however, as Martin turned in 28 disposals and a goal in an after-the-siren win over Sydney.[100] In the Dreamtime at the 'G match in round 10 Martin was adjudged best-on-field and presented with the Yiooken Award for the first time in his career.[101] He set a then-career-best mark with 38 disposals in that match.[102] To that point he was averaging a career-best 27.5 disposals per game and led all Richmond players in pressure acts, a key defensive statistic.[103] Martin repeated his recently-set career best disposals mark on two occasions in the next five weeks, before setting a new best with 43 disposals in the round 17 re-match against Essendon.[20][104][105] That effort saw him place third on the club's single game disposals record tally.[106] Martin continued his prolific ball-winning ways until the end of the season, winning 30 or more disposals in five of his last six matches.[20] Despite his stellar year Martin could not lift his side to another finals appearance, with the club winning just eight of their 22 matches that season.[20] Martin received significant personal accolades however, gaining his first All-Australian selection after breaking the club record for most disposals in a single season.[106] He also topped the club for inside 50s and contested possessions and placed only behind captain Trent Cotchin for clearances.[107] His 113 clangers however topped all players in the league and set a new league record for clangers recorded in a single home and away season.[108] Martin also received his first Jack Dyer Medal as Richmond's best and fairest player after beating the previous year's winner Alex Rance by a single vote.[109][110] He was also the club's highest placed player at the Brownlow Medal and finished third overall in the count for the league's best and fairest player.[111][112] His 25 votes saw him become the first player in Richmond's history to record more than 20 votes in back-to-back years of the award.[113] After passing the 150 game mark in round 20, Martin was also awarded life membership status at Richmond.[114]

2017 season[edit]

A reinvigorated Richmond team opened the 2017 season with a 43-point victory over Carlton. In addition to introducing a new game-plan that included faster ball-movement and a greater commitment to tackling, the club also saw another leap from Martin, who put in a starring four-goal performance.[115] He kicked another two goals the following week, but suffered a broken cheekbone in the win over Collingwood.[116] He was ultimately given the medical all-clear to play the next week, despite speculation that he would sit out the match or at least play with a protective helmet.[117][118] Martin did neither though and instead played a starring role in the rain-soaked match, recording 40 disposals, kicking two goals and gathering an equal-club-record 15 clearances in the victory over West Coast at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).[119][120] He came under another injury cloud less than a fortnight later after a mid-week training session saw him leave the track with groin soreness.[121][122] Though he did not miss a match as a result of the soreness, he was below his absolute best for much of the next month until he recorded 35 disposals in round 9's tight loss to the GWS Giants.[20] In the annual Dreamtime at the 'G match that followed in round 10 Martin received the best-afield Yiooken Award for the second straight year.[123] He followed that match up with another best-afield performance against North Melbourne that saw him record a maximum three Brownlow Medal votes in three consecutive matches leading into Richmond's mid-season bye.[124][125][20] To that point Martin ranked top-10 in the league for disposals (29.9 per game), clearances (6.7) and contested possessions (14.5). He was also second best in the league for metres gained (564.4 per game) and behind only Patrick Dangerfield for goals scored by the league's top 20 possession winners.[126] He was at this point also named in AFL Media's mid-season All Australian team.[127]

Martin depicted in a 2017 mural in Alfred Street, Richmond

He continued his roll into the second half of the season including receiving a maximum ten votes from Richmond's, and opponent Carlton's, coaches in round 14, to enter first place in the association's, champion player of the year award.[128] The next week he set an AFL record by breaking eight attempted tackles by his Port Adelaide opponents that saw Richmond into the top-four teams on the ladder.[129][130] He was at the point named the June player of the month by the AFL Players Association for performances between rounds 11 and 15.[131] Despite being tagged, Martin turned in his second 40-plus disposal match of the season a fortnight later in Richmond's win over the Brisbane Lions.[20] In addition, his 12 inside-50s was the equal second most recorded in a match by a Richmond player.[119] He narrowly avoided suspension in that match however, instead receiving fines for two separate incidents of careless conduct in which he hit back at tagger Nick Robertson during the match.[132][133] Martin was again awarded the AFLPA Player of the Month in July, becoming the first player to win the award in back-to-back months.[134] When he received another nomination in August (one of six players each month), he became the only player to be nominated in every month in that year, the award's inaugural season.[135] He continued his form in the final weeks of the season including in round 23, when he was awarded the Ian Stewart Medal as the best afield in Richmond's win over St Kilda at the MCG.[136] Richmond finished the season having won 15 matches and earned a top-four finish for the first time in 16 years. At the end of the home and away season, his 667 disposals ranked third in the club's history. His 137 inside 50s and 144 clearances both placed second in the club's record books. At the same time, his 115 clangers broke his own club and league record set the previous season.[119]

All year Martin had been plagued by yet another prolonged contract saga after his management announced the year prior that he would not be in a rush to sign a new deal.[137] By the end of January he had confirmed he would delay a decision on a contract until the completion of the season.[138] That would not stop speculation however, with news leaking of increasing offers as his form improved throughout the season to the point of him become one of the competition's best players.[139] While Richmond opened negotiations with an offer believed to be worth close to $800,000 per year, North Melbourne soon emerged as a front-runner to secure him, with a six-year offer purported to be worth more than $6 million across the life of the deal.[140][141] By July that offer had reportedly been matched by Richmond, forcing North Melbourne and other suitors to again up theirs.[142][143][144][145] Essendon soon emerged as another suitor with a bid close to the mark set by North Melbourne.[146] Negotiations came to a head in the pre-finals bye week, with Martin's camp finally ready to address the mounting contract offers.[147] A final offer was presented by North Melbourne at a reported $1.5 million a season over seven years, while Richmond's offer sat significantly lower, at closer to $1.1 million.[148] Martin spent the first part of the week in New Zealand where he discussed the offers with his father. Rumours began to circulate upon his return that Martin had made his mind up and would announce his decision on the following night's episode of The Footy Show.[149] Martin ultimately forwent more than $2 million over the life of the deal when on Thursday 31 August he accepted Richmond's offer.[150] A handshake agreement took place that afternoon in the home of Martin's agent Ralph Carr before he signed the deal officially in the days that followed.[151][152] Though numerous media organisations had already run with the news in the hours previous, Martin officially announced his decision in a pre-recorded interview that aired on The Footy Show.[153][154]

Martin with captain Trent Cotchin during the 2017 AFL Grand Final parade

With a new contract signed Martin and his Tigers entered the finals in a top-four match-up with Geelong at the MCG.[155] It was to be his first finals win, turning in a 28 disposal and arguably best-on-ground performance to see Richmond through to its first preliminary final since 2001.[156][157] He put in another strong performance in the match two weeks later, forgoing midfield minutes in favour of time up forward where he kicked three goals in his side's 36-point win over Greater Western Sydney.[158][159] Before he could play in the grand final however, Martin was to face the spotlight off-field at the Brownlow Medal count to award the league's best and fairest player that season. He entered the night as an almost unbackable favourite to win the award on the back of 10 matches where he was favourite to poll the maximum three votes.[160][161] He ultimately recorded the maximum three votes on a record-breaking 11 matches and bested Patrick Dangerfield's 2016 sum to set a new record with 36 total votes to win the award.[162][163] Dangerfield finished with the next most votes (33) but was ineligible to win after being suspended in July for a dangerous tackle against Carlton.[164] As a result, Martin's runner-up Tom Mitchell finished a full 11 points behind with 25 votes total.[165] Days later Martin would lead his team to a grand final match-up with minor-premiers Adelaide. After a tight first half, Richmond ran over the top of Adelaide in the second, securing a 37-year drought breaking premiership with a 48-point victory in front of more than one hundred thousand spectators at the MCG.[166][167] Martin was best-on-field in the win, recording 29 disposals, a staggering 21 contested possessions and two goals.[20] He was awarded the Norm Smith Medal as a result, and thus became the first player in league history to win the award and a premiership in the same year as receiving the Brownlow Medal.[168][169][170]

At the end of the home and away season VFL/AFL legend Leigh Matthews had named Martin's 2017 season as the best by any player in the history of the game.[170] By the end of the grand final it also become one of the most awarded. In addition to his premiership, his Brownlow Medal and his Norm Smith Medal, Martin also received both the Players Association and Coaches Association awards for player of the year, the former of which was named after Matthews himself.[171][172] He was also recognised in numerous media awards as the season's best player including those from the Herald Sun, 3AW, SEN, Triple M and foxfooty.com.au.[173][174] Martin received All-Australian honours for the second consecutive year as well as his second-straight Jack Dyer Medal as Richmond's best and fairest player.[175][176] His spectacular final series was also recognised by the Coach's Association, earning him the first Gary Ayres Award as the player judged the best performer across the 2017 AFL finals series.[177]

2018 season[edit]

After a dominating the year before, Martin entered 2018 as the best player in the league according to a pre-season Players Association poll, up from 12th position at the same time the previous year.[178] He appeared to take no backwards steps during the off-season, training at full strength and playing well in each of Richmond's two pre-season matches.[179][180] Martin appeared to have confirmed the assumption in round 1, named in the bests by AFL Media for a performance that included 32 disposals and a goal.[181][182] He added his second five goal haul of his career the next week, in a loss to Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval.[183] Martin would outdo that effort just a fortnight later however, posting a new career high total with six goals in a wet and rainy 93-point win over the Brisbane Lions.[184] Round 8's match with North Melbourne marked the first time Martin had gone without scoring a goal or a behind since round 23, 2016.[20] At the half-way point of the season Martin was named in Fox Footy's mid-year All Australian squad while also being named in the Herald Sun and AFL Media teams of 22 players.[185][186][187][188]

Playing style[edit]

Martin is notable for his core strength and famous 'don't argue', a fend-off technique that makes him notoriously difficult to tackle.[189][190]

Statistics[edit]

Statistics are correct to the end of round 17, 2018.[20]
Legend
 G  Goals  B  Behinds  K  Kicks  H  Handballs  D  Disposals  M  Marks  T  Tackles
Led the league for the season only
Led the league after finals only
Led the league after season and finals
Season Team No. Games G B K H D M T G B K H D M T Votes
Totals Averages (per game)
2010 Richmond 36 21 11 6 210 215 425 50 70 0.5 0.3 10.0 10.2 20.2 2.4 3.3 6
2011 Richmond 4 22 33 14 311 175 486 78 73 1.5 0.6 14.1 8.0 22.1 3.5 3.3 12
2012 Richmond 4 20 23 23 257 190 447 63 60 1.2 1.2 12.9 9.6 22.4 3.2 3.0 5
2013 Richmond 4 23 23 32 382 175 557 110 63 1.0 1.4 16.6 7.6 24.2 4.8 2.7 16
2014 Richmond 4 22 27 15 385 175 560 108 56 1.2 0.7 16.7 7.6 24.3 4.7 2.4 13
2015 Richmond 4 23 24 13 400 197 597 103 89 1.0 0.6 17.4 8.6 25.9 4.8 3.7 21
2016 Richmond 4 22 9 9 427 257 684 99 80 0.4 0.4 19.4 11.7 31.1 4.5 3.6 25
2017 Richmond 4 25 37 29 479 265 744 103 88 1.5 1.2 19.2 10.6 29.8 4.1 3.5 36
2018 Richmond 4 15 20 16 230 143 373 54 29 1.3 1.1 15.3 9.5 24.9 3.6 1.9
Career 193 207 157 3081 1792 4873 768 608 1.1 0.8 16.0 9.3 25.2 4.0 3.2 134

Honours and achievements[edit]

Team

Individual

Personal life[edit]

Chopstick incident[edit]

In December 2015 Martin was accused of making threats to stab a woman with a chopstick after she asked him to be respectful of other diners at the Mr Miyagi Japanese restaurant in Windsor in Melbourne's inner-south-east.[191] The woman in question contacted Richmond to complain two days after the alleged incident occurred on the Saturday night of 5 December. She alleged Martin had been drunk, loud and offensive and when confronted, threatened to stab her in the face with a chopstick.[192] In addition, she claimed Martin had slammed his hand into the wall next to her head when she said threatened to contact the club about the incident.[193] A joint statement released by Martin and Richmond in the days that followed acknowledged he had been drunk and acting disruptively and that he had telephoned the woman to offer an apology for any offence he had caused, an apology which was ultimately accepted.[193][194]

A police investigation into the incident followed, but was dropped within a fortnight after the woman in question declined to make an official statement. A police spokesperson said an extensive investigation had taken place and that; "After reviewing CCTV footage and speaking to all parties involved, including numerous independent witnesses at the restaurant on the night, investigators determined that no criminal offence took place."[195][196][197] A further investigation was launched by the AFL in the month that followed and further cleared Martin of making any threat to kill or other such criminal action. In a statement the league said; "“There is no evidence to support the allegation that Dustin Martin physically threatened the complainant.”

Martin ultimately received no criminal or league imposed sanction for the alleged incident but did receive a club-imposed $5,000 fine for being drunk and acting inappropriately in public. The club chose to suspend the fine considering the massive reputational damage the ultimately unfounded incident had inflicted upon him.[198][199]

Father[edit]

Martin’s father Shane is a Maori New Zealander with family connection to the Ngāti Maru tribe on the country’s north island[200] Shane moved to Australia at the age of 21. He played some social Australian rules football at Harcourt and Kangaroo Flat despite his son later characterising him as “(not) any good at footy.”[1]

Shane Martin had his visa cancelled in April 2016 and was deported to his native New Zealand after government officials determined he had failed to meet the character requirements of his residency visa. It has been alleged that he is a high-ranking member of the Rebels motorcycle gang.[201]

Dustin regularly visits his father in Auckland mid-season, with Richmond allowing him special permission for extended breaks to accommodate the international trip.[98][202]

Ambassador[edit]

In 2018 Martin became the new face of Bonds underwear.[203] At the same time he signed a new four-year contract extension to become the first Australian on a multi-year personal sponsorship deal with European sportswear brand, Puma.[204] Martin has also done promotions with Foxtel and Bang & Olufsen since the end of the 2017 season.[205]

Qualifications[edit]

Outside of football Martin holds accreditations in personal training.[1]

References[edit]

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