Speculation over Dustin Martin’s future is set to become an unwanted distraction for Richmond amid reports the star midfielder has put AFL contract talks on hold.
Martin is out of contract at the end of the 2017 season when he will be a restricted free agent, which means Richmond can match any offer put to the bullocking midfielder by rival clubs.
Ralph Carr, the 25-year-old’s manager, won’t be afraid to test the club’s limits as he seeks the best deal for his client.
Martin famously toured Greater Western Sydney’s facilities during tense contract negotiations in 2013 before signing a new deal to stay at Punt Road.
The club declined to comment on the status of Martin’s contract negotiations on Tuesday.
With the departure of star veteran Brett Deledio for GWS, the Tigers can ill afford to lose Martin, who took his game to a new level last year to claim his first Jack Dyer Medal.
Richmond are widely seen to be entering a make-or-break season for coach Damien Hardwick after last year’s disappointing 13th-placed finish that followed three successive elimination final defeats.
Martin’s situation is reminiscent of Alex Rance’s protracted negotiations during the 2015 season when Hardwick was frustrated by continued media speculation over the contract impasse with the star defender.
Ultimately Rance signed a new four-year deal to stay at Punt Road.