Former coaches have their say on Dusty’s decision

DUSTIN Martin’s first senior coach says he’d like to see the out-of-contract star carry on his AFL career with Richmond next year and beyond.

EVOLUTION: Dustin Martin has grown from a teenager playing with Castlemaine and the Bendigo Pioneers into an AFL superstar with Richmond.

EVOLUTION: Dustin Martin has grown from a teenager playing with Castlemaine and the Bendigo Pioneers into an AFL superstar with Richmond.

As it has all season, the future of Martin continues to be one of the hottest topics in the AFL and like most who follow the game, Jamie Elliott is keen to see which club the 26-year-old Tigers’ superstar commits to.

Elliott was the coach of Castlemaine in 2008 when a then 16-year-old Martin – with no tattoos – played his first game of senior football.

Nine years on Martin, a former labourer for Luke Arnott Electrical, is weighing up reported long-term multi-million dollar offers between current club Richmond and North Melbourne. 

It has been speculated that North Melbourne’s offer could be worth as much as $2 million extra to Martin over seven years should he choose to leave the Tigers, where he has played since 2010.

“I personally hope he stays with Richmond… they have been good to him over the course of his career,” Elliott said on Wednesday.

“Obviously, the dollars are the dollars that are being spoken about, but I’d like to see him stay.”

Another former coach, Mark Ellis, says he’s pleased for Martin that he has been able to forge an AFL career over his 175 games where he’s now in a position to be the subject of such lucrative contract offers.

“I think it’s important Dustin makes a very strong decision on what’s going to be best for him and best for the club,” said Ellis, who coached Martin at the Bendigo Pioneers, where he was drafted from by the Tigers with pick No.3 in 2009.

“He’s obviously come a long way from when he was here, but having said that, he’s also still the same sort of person from when he left.

“Either way, I’m just really pleased for him that he has been able to get himself in the position he is in, and really pleased with the way he has handled this whole process.

“The bottom line is he just loves playing footy and that’s what he does really well. But whatever happens, it’s great to see that things are going to fall into place for him.”

Martin – who first played junior football with Campbells Creek in under-10s – is the raging hot favourite to become the Bendigo Pioneers’ first Brownlow medallist next month following his brilliant home and away season with the Tigers in which he averaged 30.3 disposals and kicked 32 goals.

Elliott was always confident Martin was destined for a big future in football from the day he played his first senior game for Castlemaine against Gisborne in round one of the 2008 BFNL season.

“I knew with the talent he had… there’s not many kids at 16 who in senior Bendigo league footy can push a bloke off the ball and run out of a pack backwards and he was doing that regularly from his first game,” said Elliott, who is now coaching Riddell in the Riddell District league.

“He was already a bull at 16, so I’m not suprised at all with what he has gone on to do and he deserves everything he gets.

“The game that still sticks out to me in his first year was when we played at Golden Square (round 16).

“We played him in the centre of the ground and then moved him to the forward line and he had five goals to half-time. You don’t do that at the age of 16 and that, again, just showed me how good a talent he was.”