Richmond superstar Dustin Martin to miss Opening Round clash with Damien Hardwick’s Gold Coast

Richmond have officially ruled out Dustin Martin from playing their Opening Round clash against Gold Coast on Saturday.

The 32-year-old AFL star is dealing with a corked calf and Richmond are not taking any risks with the three-time Norm Smith medallist.

Factoring into the Tigers’ decision is they take on Carlton at the MCG next Thursday night, just five days after facing the Suns at Heritage Bank Stadium.

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“He’s obviously a bit sore,” new Richmond coach Adem Yze said on Thursday.

“The risk of him playing this weekend is going to be too high.

“He’s too important for us to go and push really hard for round zero up there, flying up, all those sorts of things have come into calculation.”

Martin was cleared of any serious injury after undergoing precautionary scans on Tuesday.

Yze said Martin was shattered — less for having missed the chance to play against his old coach Damien Hardwick, and more for missing a game at all.

“It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, he just wants to play footy,” Yze said.

“Knowing him, he’d be really anxious and angry about the fact that he’s not playing because he loves playing the game.

“Irrelevant of playing Gold Coast, it’s (Opening Round) and he wants to get started.

“But we’ve just got to be really smart (with Martin).”

Martin will miss a reunion with his former coach. Credit: Getty Images

It’s a significant blow for the Tigers, who will already be without spearhead forward Tom Lynch (foot), who is unlikely to return until after the Carlton clash in Round 1, while skipper Toby Nankervis (plantar fasciitis) has also been ruled out for the season opener.

Jack Graham (quad) will also miss the chance to play against his old coach’s new team for the first time.

Like Martin, Nankervis and Lynch are pushing to face the Blues in their second game of the season.

Graham, however, is likely to be sidelined up for up to four weeks.

Martin played 20 games last year after being limited to nine and 16 in 2022 and 2021 respectively.

He has spent most of the pre-season in the midfield and has his Richmond teammates excited about what he can do in the upcoming season.

Dustin Martin is still recovering from a corked leg. Credit: AAP

It would also be frustrating for the superstar to miss his reunion with Hardwick.

Martin and Baker both spent their entire careers under Hardwick before the triple-premiership coach retired last year, while he lured Prestia from the Gold Coast at the end of 2016.

The Nankervis absence is also a huge blow, but it opens the door for Sam Naismith’s fairytale return to the AFL.

Naismith was dogged by serious knee injuries at Sydney before he was finally delisted at the end of 2022.

But after showing encouraging signs in the VFL, he was picked up by the Tigers as a delisted free agent in November.

With Ben Sutton and AAP

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