Sunday, June 23, 2024

‘Happened like 15 times’: Unsung Dusty act which revealed his secret superpower… at just 19

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Dustin Martin is arguably the greatest Tiger ever.

The only three-time Norm Smith Medallist in the history of the competition, a four-time All-Australian and 2017 Brownlow Medallist.

Despite his long list of accolades, former teammate Jack Riewoldt says above all else, he is a great mate.

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Appearing on Fox Footy’s AFL 360, Riewoldt shared a heart-warming anecdote that truly encapsulates the sort of teammate and friend that Dustin Martin is.

“It’s more so understanding who he is, you get to know people over a long period of time, that’s what mates do. He is a fantastic mate and fantastic teammate,” Riewoldt said.

“I remember back to early days, 2011, we were being challenged and we watched this edit of the first quarter and it was nothing to do with anyone’s skill.

“It was the number 4, at 19 years of age, going around and picking blokes up off the ground at every stoppage, it happened like 15 times, he was always the guy to pick the last bloke up off the ground.

“That’s that element of team, element of camaraderie, that element of leadership that he oozes. Because we don’t hear him talk a lot, you don’t hear him spruik it, but he is a fantastic leader.”

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Martin is set to become just the seventh Tiger to reach 300 games, joining the likes of Kevin Bartlett, Riewoldt, Jack Dyer, Trent Cotchin, Shane Edwards and Francis Bourke.

“It’s a really important moment for the club… while the spotlight will solely be on Dustin this week, there’s this moment in time for the football club, he becomes an immortal,” Riewoldt said.

“I think and I hope he has a grasp on how important he is. He’s important to me, would I be a three-time premiership player if I didn’t have Dustin Martin in my life, probably not, I would say no.

Martin’s fingerprints are all over the drought-breaking 2017 premiership, as they are on Richmond’s 2019 and 2021 triumphs.

“After 37 years, from 1980 and 2017, there was a lot of desperate Richmond supporters and Richmond supporters that maybe lacked a sense of identity, the butt of an office joke around the water cooler, a generation of kids asking their parents or whoever made them go for Richmond, why?,” Riewoldt said.

“Then all of a sudden 2017 happens and it answers so many questions for people, but it also connects so many generations. When you break a premiership drought, that is arguably the most special thing you can do for people that you may never lay eyes on.”

Martin will not be participating in any media events this week but Riewoldt says one of the strengths of that Richmond side were playing to each other’s strengths and leaning on teammates.

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“As we’ve grown around Dustin, an element of you becomes protective of him as well, he clearly doesn’t like doing media, he’s not an outward person,” he said.

“We understood that early on, you can push against someone and say ‘you should be doing the same amount as we are’ or ‘it’s in your contract’… but that wasn’t going to get the best out of him. I think there was a mutual understanding between a few of us that we’d pick up the slack in that area and he repaid us pretty well when we needed him on-field.”

AFL360 co-host Mark Robinson highlighted the enormous impact Martin has had in the AFL world.

“In all my time in footy I don’t think I’ve seen a player influence kids as much as Dusty Martin has with a haircut,” Robinson said.

“Everyone wears jumpers and numbers and stuff, I haven’t seen anybody… kids would go and get the Dusty haircut, it’s amazing.”

“Not just kids, I’ve seen full grown adults with it too!” Riewoldt laughed.

Despite his outstanding football resume, Martin, who Riewoldt labels an “enigma”, never got too big for his boots.

“Drinking Dom Perignon at the bar at 2am, he’s got his third Norm Smith, is he the kind of guy who would say you guys wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for me?” Robinson asked.

“He couldn’t be more humble, those are the last words that would come out of his mouth. He played with this aura, when we did something great, he celebrated it,” Riewoldt replied.

“In 2017 in that final week, he wins the Brownlow and it was the most non-event of his week, oh yeah I’ve won the Brownlow that’s great, he was just completely driven for that Saturday against Adelaide.”

Martin is set to play his 300th match against Hawthorn at 4:35pm on Saturday, live and exclusive to Fox Footy.

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