Dusty fends for him­self


YOU can’t num­bers.

Rich­mond su­per­star Dustin Martin has smashed the bro­ken-tack­les record for one sea­son, with 82 ahead of to­day’s pre­mier­ship de­cider.

Day­light comes in sec­ond, fol­lowed by Cats champ Pa­trick Danger­field on 26.

Martin has dished out 160 of his leg­endary “don’t ar­gues” since the start of 2014 — miles clear of the sec­ond-best tackle breaker over that time, Western Bull­dog Jake Stringer (86). Dusty reg­is­tered eight bro­ken tack­les alone in last week’s pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal tri­umph against GWS.

The Brown­low Medallist said he wasn’t sure when he first de­vel­oped his steel-arm fend-off.

“It was un­der-18s I sup­pose, that’s when I started us­ing it a lit­tle bit,” Martin said at yes­ter­day’s AFL Grand Fi­nal pa­rade.

“I get asked about the ‘don’t ar­gue’ all the time, but it’s just a nat­u­ral in­stinct I sup­pose if some­one is in the way.”

Asked if he was ner­vous play­ing in the Tigers’ first Grand Fi­nal since 1982, Martin said: “I haven’t thought about the game too much, I’m just soak­ing it all up and en­joy­ing it. Ob­vi­ously, we’ve got a mas­sive sup­porter base, so it’s awesome.”

Rich­mond’s 2017 resur­gence has been re­mark­able. The Tigers lost their fi­nal game last sea­son against Syd­ney at the SCG by 113 points and were rated a $67 chance at the start of the year to win the flag.

Martin said the turn­around was based on a bit of tin­ker­ing, some hard work and close re­la­tion­ships.

“The club had a bit of a re­fresh over the sum­mer, we got some new peo­ple in and every­one was just hun­gry to get bet­ter and ob­vi­ously it’s paid off and it’s good,” he said.

Martin said the im­pact of skip­per Trent Cotchin on the group had been “huge”. ar­gue with th­ese

“He’s a great leader, a great friend and a good per­son.”

Martin’s team­mate Ja­son Castagna has played all 24 games this sea­son on a base salary of just $70,000. It’s a far cry from the $8 mil­lion-plus Martin will pocket across the next seven sea­sons, but Castagna said the play­ing group had never been more united.

“We didn’t have the sea­son we wanted last year, but I think we re­ally looked into the con­nec­tion at the club and tried to build our re­la­tion­ships,” Castagna said.

“We were good friends but now we are a pretty strongknit group and it’s taken us a long way.”

Tigers mid­fielder Kane Lam­bert has trav­elled the hard road for his shot at pre­mier­ship glory.

Lam­bert was over­looked in six na­tional drafts and played at Pre­ston and then Wil­liamstown be­fore win­ning a spot on the Tigers’ rookie list three years ago.

“It prob­a­bly sits a bit un­com­fort­ably for me sit­ting up here in front of all th­ese peo­ple,” Lam­bert said yes­ter­day.

“A ma­ture-age rookie from Pre­ston — it’s far from what I ex­pected.

“But I am very, very grate­ful for the op­por­tu­nity Rich­mond has given me and I’m hop­ing I can re­pay the faith.”

Martin said he had dished out about a dozen Grand Fi­nal tick­ets to friends and fam­ily, in­clud­ing for­mer West Coast Ea­gles and St Kilda ruck­man Michael Gar­diner.

“The Big Show, there,” Martin said. he’ll be

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