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Tigers' contract fight

Date

Jon Pierik and Caroline Wilson

Dustin Martin: The AFL wants answers over the Tiger midfielder's goal celebration.

Dustin Martin: The AFL wants answers over the Tiger midfielder's goal celebration. Photo: Mal Fairclough

EXCLUSIVE

Richmond is fighting to retain two of its key young stars, with Reece Conca beginning to consider a shift home to Perth and a third-party agreement emerging as one stumbling block in Dustin Martin's contract negotiations.

As the AFL asked Richmond on Monday to explain Dustin Martin's emotional jailhouse salute after his second-quarter goal against Carlton on Sunday, it was revealed the Tigers are keen for Martin to also be paid for a mentoring role with indigenous youth at Punt Road's Korin Gamadji Institute.

Fighting: Reece Conca.

Fighting: Reece Conca. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

The Tigers have asked the AFL to approve a deal allowing Martin to be paid outside the salary cap. But the AFL revised its third-party agreement rules late last year, tightening the criteria for approval.

It then ruled earlier this year that Chris Judd's payments as a Visy ambassador, which had sat outside of the salary cap, were now to be split between the salary cap and injury-allowance payments. It is understood Geelong's Joel Selwood and Collingwood's Dane Swan have similar deals.

While the Tigers face a salary-cap squeeze, Martin remains one of the planks the Tigers want to build around, but the onballer had wanted about $600,000 a season to remain. The Tigers are offering about $500,000.

It is understood the parties recently were close to a two-year deal, but Martin's manager, Ralph Carr, is now unhappy with some points of the contract. Carr said there was ''nothing to report'' when contacted on Monday.

The Tigers remain confident of retaining the pair. Tigers football operations manager Dan Richardson said at the weekend a deal with Martin was ''very close'', with the finer details to be hammered out now the season is over.

The AFL has asked Richmond to investigate why Martin offered the jailhouse salute, which came in front of the biggest crowd ever at an elimination final. It is considering taking a stand and fining Martin to stamp out a growing trend among players.

The AFL's football operations boss Mark Evans confirmed he was concerned by Martin's gesture but would wait for an official explanation from the club before taking any further action. ''We definitely have an issue with players making certain gestures and we've asked Richmond to investigate what motivated Dustin's,'' said Evans.

In the past the AFL has left any disciplinary action up to the club concerned. Earlier this season the Essendon leadership group spoke with Michael Hibberd to ensure the 'handcuff' gesture was not repeated.

However, it is understood the AFL could issue a statement against such a gesture being repeated and could even consider fining Martin should it be established his had prison connotations.

Collingwood small forward Andrew Krakouer, another who has done the jailhouse salute, tweeted his support for Martin, but the posting was later removed. Former St Kilda duo Brendon Goddard and Michael Gardiner have also celebrated kicking a goal in the same way.

Meanwhile, Conca wants to remain at Punt Road and is happy to sign a two-year deal, as was made clear to the Tigers months ago. But finances remain an issue.

It is understood Conca is after about $350,000 a season, believed to be a modest rise on the final year of his initial three-year deal.

West Coast and Fremantle have expressed interest in Conca, taken with the sixth overall pick in the 2010 national draft, and he has begun to consider a return home. Industry sources believe Conca would secure a healthier pay day should he emerge on the open market.

Conca's season ended in a shattering manner when he tore his hamstring early in the elimination-final loss. He went for scans on Monday morning. ''It's not great. Obviously, we went in with pretty high expectations,'' Conca said.

35 comments

  • The term 'Jailhouse Salute' only seems to exist in AFL parlance, just try and find it anywhere else, pretty much every google hit relates to the AFL.

    No lets see; on 'Deal or no deal', I think it means 'No Deal' and I can imagine it might be a celebration of a Strike in Bowling, so why the fuss about it? (very recent) Folklore becoming fact?

    Commenter
    Not again
    Date and time
    September 10, 2013, 9:16AM
    • Agreed. It was news to me the first time the AFL made a fuss of it, and as salutes go it's pretty forgettable. If the AFL really want to stop the supposed prison association thing I'd say their best bet would be to shut up about it and just let the fad pass.

      Commenter
      Angus
      Date and time
      September 10, 2013, 11:17AM
    • Gents, try 'premier league handcuff celebration'....Expand your search and expand your knowledge...Goes back quite a few years. It is low class, uneccessary and I'm happy the AFL are keen to address it. Martin has done it a few time now.

      Commenter
      Warren
      Location
      Burrows
      Date and time
      September 10, 2013, 11:56AM
    • Andy Krakouer used it to salute his esteemed colleagues in the WA clink a few years back too...as did Michael Gardnier to his gansta mates. Have seen it in soccer a bit too in Europe and England. Good insight into the caliber of an individual and the focus they're giving the actual game - and who their influences are away from the field.

      Commenter
      Terry
      Location
      Mooroopna
      Date and time
      September 10, 2013, 12:26PM
  • If Chris Judd had to lose his third party agreement with Visy, then surely Dustin Martin can't receive payment for a third party agreement, regardless of what it is. The AFL made its position on third party agreements crystal clear - Richmond can't be allowed to be the exception to the rule. It's unreasonable and unfair to every other club.

    Commenter
    blu
    Location
    Geelong
    Date and time
    September 10, 2013, 9:16AM
    • Good to see Dustin Martin fully focussed on the elimination final on Sunday. Making sure he got into a position to be able to use his special "signal" for the TV camera's. Obviously something he was thinking about, above the game itself.

      These type of players are just show boaters, and no suprise when a key to your engine room is not focussed, you lose. It only takes for a players mind to be off by 5% for them to be not at maximum value. No suprise at all that Richmond choked yet again. Martin will take the money. Character always shines through.

      Commenter
      red
      Date and time
      September 10, 2013, 9:34AM
      • The neck tatts at age 18 gave an insight into his ablility to think rationally about decision making and consequence. This is an unintelligent bloke who is talented at football - albeit not consistent or focussed. Richmond bought him though. What club would really want him on their list now for $500K given Richmond no longer seems to. Requires a full time minder and doesn't seem to 'get it'.

        Commenter
        Murray
        Location
        Rivers
        Date and time
        September 10, 2013, 10:33AM
    • Judd didnt miss out on his money dont worry. He received it through another source.
      And as IF the AFL would EVER favour Richmond in anything. They have never given them a thing and they sure as hell aint going to start now. Richmond had to rebuild on their OWN - its only Melbourne, Sydney, GWS and Gold Coast that get hand outs

      Commenter
      Ilovemelbourne
      Date and time
      September 10, 2013, 9:35AM
      • Given the pundits (Commetti / Wilson) who regularly labelled the richmond midefield as the best in the business it seems it might well be a while before you get another tilt at a GF.
        Vickery and Reiwoldt with all the their show boating are bloody big disappointments too.

        Commenter
        Crocodile Dundee
        Location
        NT
        Date and time
        September 10, 2013, 10:34AM
      • Agree about Vickery and Reiwoldt -- although later probably injured. Richmond has a really poor record developing talls. Prior to Hardwick we failed to develop Hughes and Shulz. In the last 5 years we have gone all in with Vickery and he is still yet to take the game on and assert himself. Griffiths and has been left to rot after we tried to make him a defender. Elton seems to be going nowhere. Astbury struggles. Reiwoldt is the only tall in the past 7-8 years that has come on to any degree. Big wraps on McBean but on past form he will have to be a unique talent to progress at Richmond as a tall.

        Unclear why journos are not writing about Richmonds failure with talls.

        Commenter
        Yellow & Black
        Date and time
        September 10, 2013, 11:43AM

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