AFL: Richmond Tiger Dustin Martin will play game 300 at the MCG after a week off

Richmond superstar Dustin Martin will play his 300th game at the potentially packed MCG after the three-time premiership winners were ruled out of Thursday’s clash with Adelaide.

Coach Adem Yze confirmed the news and also revealed that Marlion Pickett’s gesture towards the crowd last week was the result of increasing abuse.

Although the Tigers will be without Martin and Pickett (who has a calf injury) for the game against Adelaide Oval, the return of their midfield stars Dion Prestia and Tim Taranto as well as Shai Bolton should give them new momentum.

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Yze had suggested that the short turnaround after the loss to Geelong last Saturday would make it difficult for the 32-year-old Martin to get up for the game.

But on Tuesday morning he announced that the Brownlow medallist was “ill” and unable to train with his teammates, so “the decision was basically made for us”.

“Today he is not at his best. We only have one training session,” Yze said on Tuesday.

“It should always have depended on how he got through today, but today he is actually sick, so the decision is no longer in our hands.

“He will be missing this weekend and the good thing is that he will be playing his 300th game next week in front of our crowd against the Hawks.”

Martin, who is in the final year of a seven-year contract, remains the subject of speculation about his future beyond 2024. There are rumours he could retire once he plays his 300th game, before potentially joining forces with his former coach Damien Hardwick on the Gold Coast in 2025.

Martin’s decision to miss this week’s game and reach his 300th milestone at the MCG has drawn mixed reactions.

Football reporter Tom Morris criticised the plan on Channel 9 Football ovenin which he stated that victory should be placed above any milestone, a sentiment strongly refuted by the great Jimmy Bartel of Geelong on the same show.

Fans were also divided in their comments on Richmond’s official post about the news about X.

“The right decision to bring this legend in front of a packed MCG,” wrote one.

“Should be playing in Adelaide, the team comes first. Celebrate his 301st birthday at the G. Shame,” added another.

The Richmond great has shown solid form in recent weeks, kicking five goals in his last two games against Essendon and the Cats.

Martin’s absence will be offset by the return of the A-trio of Prestia, Bolton and Taranto, the latter of whom has been out since the fifth round with a wrist injury.

“If he is comfortable with his wrist, we believe he is ready,” Yze said of Taranto.

Pickett could be out for “a couple of weeks” after suffering a calf injury against the Cats, and he also earned praise from the coach when he made an obscene gesture to the crowd as he left the field – he raised his middle finger.

Yze said Pickett, who has been facing charges since his arrest in June last year for alleged involvement in a series of commercial burglaries in Perth during the 2022 Christmas period, was trying to deal with increasing scrutiny from opposing team fans.

The case was adjourned for the seventh time by consent in Perth Local Court last week, but Yze said Pickett was doing his best to resolve the issues.

“He’s taken a lot of punishment over the last few weeks considering what’s happened to him off the field,” he said.

“He’s struggling with a little thing right now and people are letting him know. We’re supporting him.

“He’s coping well with it, the process continues in the background, but you don’t notice it.”

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