The AFL’s hottest property Dustin Martin has announced that he has signed a new seven-year deal to stay at Richmond.
The news ended months of speculation about the midfielder’s future, with Martin expected to receive at least $1.1 million a year – believed to be a lower amount than he was offered by North Melbourne to switch clubs.
“The Richmond Football Club have been great to me and we are just on an incredible journey together and I’ve just got such great relations at that football club,” Martin told Channel Nine’s The Footy Show on Thursday night.
“I kind of felt I was cheating on a girlfriend or something. It was weird, but it was all good,” the 26-year-old said of meeting North Melbourne’s coach and leadership group during contract negotiations.
— The AFL Footy Show (@AFLFootyShow) August 31, 2017
On accepting $2 million less to stay at Punt Road, Martin said “hopefully I can make it up somehow”, with the TV interview no doubt one of the first moves in that direction.
“It’s a massive relief to be honest. I’m sick of people talking about it and as I said I don’t like being the centre of attention so they [the media] can go and find something else to talk about now,” he said.
“It was a stressful year, believe it or not, I was kind of wrestling with myself. You’ve got to make the most out of your football career while you can … in the end Richmond is home to me.”
Earlier on Thursday, Richmond chief executive Brendon Gale, head of football Neil Balme and football manager Dan Richardson met Martin and his manager Ralph Carr.
The Kangaroos were reportedly told Martin would not take up their offer soon after that meeting broke up.
Months of speculation intensified over the past week after the Tigers sealed third spot, setting up a qualifying final against Geelong.
Martin and Carr returned to Melbourne on Tuesday night after a trip to New Zealand. The Richmond star went over to speak to his father, who was deported last year, about his AFL future.
The club and coach Damien Hardwick had steadfastly played a straight bat to questions about their midfielder’s future this season.
“The decision, whatever it may be, will come out. But does it affect our preparation? Not really. We still go about our business,” Hardwick said on Wednesday.