In the third of a special feature series leading into the 2014 National Draft, Richmond’s Recruiting Manager Francis Jackson provides a fascinating insight into the 2009 drafting of Tiger young gun Dustin Martin.

No Dustin doubt
“2009 was a very interesting year, with the close finish (for the wooden spoon).  Melbourne finished below us, and qualified for a priority pick. We weren’t quite sure (what it would do with the top two selections), but we were very, very strong on Dustin.” 

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Strong first impression
“We originally saw Dustin play in 2008.  I saw him at the Bendigo Pioneers, play in Bendigo.  He was dominant and I felt then, quite clearly, that he was going to be a really capable player.  That was the year before he got drafted.  He then had a really strong (under-18s) carnival in 2009 (playing for Vic Country) . . .  Clearly, he stood out.  There were a few question marks about his work ethic . . . but he was highly talented, had magnificent athleticism, was physically mature, and ready to go.  He had fantastic power and speed, and all the tools to adapt very quickly to AFL footy.” 

Tiger draft recall:  Jack Riewoldt

Tigers tee off with Dusty
“We were ecstatic when we found out that Melbourne had committed to Tom Scully and Jack Trengove . . . When they committed to those two, we actually organised to meet Dustin and his mother and grandma, maybe two days out from the draft.  Thought we’d go up and have a chat to Dustin, because clearly Melbourne had committed to those two players.  Our recruiting team went up and played golf with Dustin in Bendigo, and organised to meet his mum for lunch later.  So, that was a bit of fun . . . ‘Dusty’ is certainly a much better footballer than he is a golfer.  He reminded me a bit of Happy Gilmore. In fact, he even tried to run up and drive at one stage.  So, we had a bit of fun, got to know Dustin a lot more, and then certainly put their (the family’s) minds at rest, telling them that unless something most unusual happened, that we were picking Dustin at pick three.”

Tiger draft recall: Trent Cotchin

The final word
“We’ve been thrilled with Dustin’s progress.  He’s turned into a fantastic player, and we think the sky’s the limit for him in the future.  He is going to be an even better player going forward.”