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

Richmond superstar Dustin Martin is set to play his 300th game at a potentially packed MCG after the three-time premiership winner was ruled out of Thursday’s clash with Adelaide.

Coach Adem Yze confirmed the news and also revealed that the increasing level of abuse towards Marlion Pickett was behind his move to the crowd last week.

While they will be without Martin and Pickett, who injured his hamstring, for the match at Adelaide Oval, the Tigers should be bolstered by the return of midfield bulls Dion Prestia and Tim Tarant and Shai Bolton.

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Yze marked a brief turnaround after last Saturday’s loss to Geelong made it difficult for the 32-year-old Martin to get up for a tackle.

But he revealed on Tuesday morning that the Brownlow medalist was “sick” and unable to train with his team-mates, so “the decision kind of fell for us”.

“He’s a bit of a thief today. We only have one training session,” Yze said on Tuesday.

“It was always based on how he got through today, but he’s actually sick today, so we didn’t have that.

“He will miss this weekend and the silver lining to that is the fact he will be playing his 300th in front of our home crowd against the Hawks next week.”

Martin, who is in the final year of a seven-year deal, remains a source of speculation about his future beyond 2024, with suggestions he could retire as soon as he plays his 300th game, before potentially linking up with former coach Damien Hardwick on the Gold Coast in 2025.

The move for Martin to skip this week’s clash and bring up his 300th milestone at the MCG has received a mixed response.

Footy reporter Tom Morris slammed the plan on Channel 9 Footy Furnacestating that winning should be placed above any milestone, a point strongly refuted by Geelong great Jimmy Bartel in the same programme.

Fans were also divided when commenting on Richmond’s official X news release.

“Right decision to put this legend in front of a full MCG,” wrote one.

“I should be playing in Adelaide, the number one team. Celebrate his 301st with Mr. Shame,” another added.

The Richmond giant 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 compensated by the return of the senior trio of Prestia, Bolton and Taranto, with the latter sidelined since round five with a wrist injury.

“If he’s confident with his wrist, we feel like he’s ready to go,” Yze said of Taranto.

Pickett could miss “a couple of weeks” after injuring his hamstring against the Cats and also earned a chat with the trainer after making an obscene gesture – raising his midriff – to the crowd as he left the pitch.

Yze said Pickett, who is facing charges stemming from his arrest last June for his alleged involvement in a spate of commercial burglaries in Perth over the 2022 Christmas period, was trying to cope with increased scrutiny from opposition supporters.

The case was adjourned for the seventh time at Perth Magistrates’ Court last week, but Yze said Pickett was doing his best to resolve the issues.

“He’s struggled a bit the last few weeks with what’s been going on with him off the field,” he said.

“He only deals with a little and people let him know about it. We support him in this.

“He coped well with it, this process is bubbling in the background, but you wouldn’t notice it.”

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