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AFL trades 2016: Dane Swan expects friend Dustin Martin to re-sign with Richmond

Friends: Dane Swan and Dustin Martin. Photo: Shaney BalcombeDane Swan says he expects his close friend and soon-to-be free agent Dustin Martin to re-commit to Richmond, but concedes whether Martin stays a Tiger could hinge on how Richmond perform in 2017.
Nanjing Night Net

As fellow Tigers star Brett Deledio waits to see if a trade can be engineered that moves him to Geelong, Martin and Fremantle’s Nat Fyfe loom as the biggest names in next year’s crop of free agents.

Despite Richmond’s struggles this year, Martin, 25, is coming off a career-best season in which he was named an All-Australian for the first time, won his maiden best-and-fairest award, and finished third to Cats star Patrick Dangerfield in the Brownlow Medal.

He achieved all that despite a tumultuous 12 months off the field, in which he received a suspended fine and was at the centre of a police investigation for an incident with a woman at a Windsor restaurant, and endured the deportation of his father Shane to New Zealand for his involvement in an outlaw motorcycle gang.

The recently retired Collingwood champion’s friendship with the younger Martin is well documented, and while Swan stayed loyal to the Pies over 15 years at the club, he says he wouldn’t think less of Martin for leaving Punt Road.

Still, Swan was tipping Martin would be a Tiger in 2018 and beyond. “My personal opinion is I think he’ll stay at Richmond, but then again, how do you know? In 12 months Richmond might finish on the bottom, and he might go ‘I’m not hanging around here to finish on the bottom’ or they might finish seventh, win a final and he might go ‘let’s do a five year deal,'” Swan told Fairfax Media as he continued the promotion of his new book: Dane Swan: My Story.

“It is good to be a one-club player, but I don’t have any problem with people leaving for a particular reason.”

Swan pointed to the case of Deledio, 29, as a reason the Tigers needed to ensure they were successful to keep Martin, suggesting that former No. 1 draft pick Deledio wanted to join the Cats in order to boost his chances of playing in a premiership.

Deledio has one year to run on his contract and Geelong and Richmond continuing negotiations for a trade, with the Tigers demanding contracted Cat Josh Caddy in exchange for the veteran. “From what I know I think [Martin] will [stay], but I would have thought Deledio would stay too,” Swan said.

“A year in footy’s a funny thing. There’s obviously going to be a heap of clubs after [Martin] because he’s probably in the best five midfielders in the league. There’s probably going to be a lot of clubs coming for him, but I think if Richmond can play some good footy and he sees light at the end of the tunnel, everyone wants to win a premiership.”

Swan said he was comfortable with players like Deledio and Carlton’s Bryce Gibbs – who has sought a trade to Adelaide – requesting moves despite being under contract. “I don’t have a problem with it. It’s good for the game. It also gives the ‘no-names’ the freedom to move around and find a club.”

Swan also praised the Tigers for the way they had handled Martin.

“I think he’s surrounded himself with some pretty good people. I think he’s comfortable in his own skin, I think he’s more relaxed,” Swan said.

“I think Richmond have been good for him. Look at the way he’s going now. He’s very settled off the field. He’s got a pretty well-balanced life between having fun and working hard, I think he’s got the balance right now so he’s only going to get better.

“I think he’s a super player and he’s only going to get better. He’s been working pretty hard this off-season, he’s been running and boxing quite a fair bit during the week, so I think he wants to improve. I can see he’s got a hunger that he wants to get better, and he wants to win.”

Having exited the finals three years in a row in elimination finals, the Tigers plummeted down the ladder in 2016, finishing 13th with eight wins.

It was a campaign that led to the axing of several assistant coaches, a football department review, and the poaching of Neil Balme from Collingwood to become Richmond’s football department chief.

Tigers coach Damien Hardwick has two years remaining on his contract but seems unlikely to keep his job in 2018 if the Tigers have another dismal season next year.

The Tigers remain likely to land out-of-contract Gold Coast midfielder Dion Prestia despite talks between the clubs dragging on through the first week of the 11-day trade period.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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