Richmond superstar Dustin Martin has brushed aside fears he will carry sore ribs into Saturday’s AFL grand final.
The Brownlow Medal winner received a knee in the back as he fell to the MCG turf in a marking contest with Greater Western Sydney’s Heath Shaw during the Tigers’ preliminary final win.
Martin, renowned for his physical strength and toughness, was left doubled over in pain clutching at his left side after the heavy impact in the third quarter.
He played significantly more time up forward in the second half of Saturday’s 36-point win, but denied he is still dealing with the issue.
“They’re (the ribs) all right – I just got a bit winded and probably carried on a bit too much,” Martin told the Nine Network’s The Footy Show on Thursday night.
“But they’re all good.”
Martin, who by his own admission is uncomfortable in a media setting, has been thrust into the spotlight since his record-breaking Brownlow Medal win.
But he is confident both he and the Tigers have properly dealt with the hype around the club’s first grand final appearance since 1982.
“We’ll just keep it the same – very relaxed,” he said of the final preparations for Saturday’s clash against Adelaide.
“I’m always very relaxed before games but I was very nervous against the Giants just because if we had lost we wouldn’t have made the grand final.
“But now that we’re in the grand final I’ll relax a bit more.”
One of the most extraordinary features of Martin’s Brownlow Medal-winning year has been his ability to separate his on-field form from off-field stress.
There was the week-by-week speculation about whether Martin would stay with the Tigers, a soap opera that only ended when he signed a massive seven-year contract extension.
Then there is his father Shane, who was deported to New Zealand late last year because of his links to the Rebels motorcycle club.
Tigers assistant coach Justin Leppitsch has heard the Brownlow medallist occasionally say during his tumultuous AFL season that he has felt under the pump.
But it is the only way Leppitsch would know.
“Nothing bothers Dusty – winning Brownlows, I guess the disappointment of not having his father in the country to be here, just the week-to-week talk about his contract,” Leppitsch said.
“There has been so much put on his plate and you wouldn’t know it.
“At times he says ‘oh, it’s been a stressful week’, but you couldn’t tell by looking at him.
“He’s amazing, how well he takes not only credit, but also adversity – he’s a well-balanced man.”
The only speculation about Martin now is whether he can become the first player to pull off the Brownlow-Norm Smith Medal quinella.
While other players have the Brownlow and the Norm Smith to their names, none have won them in the same year.