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"It felt like cheating on a girlfriend": Dusty spurns overtures to stay a Tiger

Football

Finally, it’s official – Dustin Martin is staying at Punt Road.

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The Richmond superstar announced last night he had agreed to a seven-year deal, tying him to the AFL club until the end of the 2024 season – when he will be 33-years-old.

Martin, who was to become a restricted free agent at season’s end, had been mulling a contract offer from North Melbourne – reportedly also a seven-year deal – that was worth significantly more money.

But Martin couldn’t see himself in anything other than a yellow-and-black guernsey on an AFL field.

“I’ve decided to stay at Tigerland for another seven years, which I’m incredibly grateful for,” Martin said in a paid appearance on the Nine Network’s The Footy Show.

“It’s a massive relief. I’m sick of people talking about it. I don’t like being the centre of attention so people can go and find something else to talk about now.”

Yesterday afternoon, Richmond chief executive Brendon Gale, head of football Neil Balme and football manager Dan Richardson met Martin and his manager Ralph Carr to sign off on the blockbuster deal reported to be worth up to $1.3 million a year.

Martin revealed he had met Roos coach Brad Scott and members of the club’s leadership group as part of their audacious bid to sign him.

“I really appreciate those guys for taking the time and showing interest (but) I kind of felt like I was cheating on a girlfriend,” Martin said.

“It was weird.

“The Richmond Football Club has been great to me, we’re on an incredible journey together, and I’ve just got such great relationships at the club.

“I certainly thought about (leaving), it was a stressful year, I was wrestling with myself. But the relationships I’ve got there are far more important.”

While Martin struggled with the thought of leaving Punt Road for Arden St, Carr said it had remained a serious consideration until very recently.

“This time last week he was going or that was the talk,” Carr said.

“But once we weighed everything up and really talked it through… we realised that Richmond was where we wanted to to be.

“Dusty gave up over $2million to stay (but) I think we’ve made the right decision.”

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.

Martin didn’t speak to the media at Wednesday evening’s All-Australian dinner, where he made the team for the second-straight season.

The club, and coach Damien Hardwick, have steadfastly played a straight bat to questions about their star midfielder’s future as the saga dragged on, and their patient approach was rewarded with last night’s announcement.

“It’s very exciting for our footy club, it’s great news for Dustin and more importantly it’s outstanding news for our fans,” Hardwick said.

-AAP

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