Tigers coach Damien Hardwick blasted for playing injured Dustin Martin after topless groping video

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Tigers coach Damien Hardwick is BLASTED for playing injured Dustin Martin in finals loss just a day after superstar’s topless groping video came to light: ‘He was a bit of a liability’

  • Martin was sidelined for eight weeks with a hamstring injury before the finals
  • He was parachuted into the elimination final despite only being 80 per cent fit 
  • The Tigers ultimately lost by two points to the Lions and their season is over 
  • Cornes said the decision to play Martin had played a part in the Tigers loss 

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Port Adelaide premiership winner Kane Cornes has lashed the Richmond Tigers for risking Dustin Martin in their elimination final loss to the Brisbane Lions, labelling the  superstar a ‘liability’.

The Tigers were eliminated from the AFL finals in a heartbreaking finale that saw them lose by two points following a late Joe Daniher goal to snatch the lead.

Martin had been racing the clock to play the match after eight weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.

He was also at the centre of a viral video that surfaced on the even of the elimination final against the Lions that showed him groping a topless woman at a Mad Monday function in 2015. 

Tigers coach Damien Hardwick blasted for playing injured Dustin Martin

He had 15 disposals, eight contested possessions, one goal and three inside 50s in a willing performance after coach Damien Hardwick admitted he wasn’t fully fit.

‘He’s not going to be 100 per cent, he’ll probably be about 80 per cent, which is good enough,’ Hardwick said prior to the match.

‘Ideally you’d always love another week, but in reality we’re at the business end of the season.

‘We could have pushed the envelope last week, so we’re pretty happy with where he’s at.

‘Eighty per cent Dustin Martin is pretty formidable from my point of view. I’d still hate to play on him.’

1662083297 668 Tigers coach Damien Hardwick blasted for playing injured Dustin Martin

1662083297 668 Tigers coach Damien Hardwick blasted for playing injured Dustin Martin

But Cornes slammed the decision to play Martin when he wasn’t 100 per cent and said it contributed to the Tigers’ season-ending loss.

‘[It was] a mistake clearly to play Dustin Martin I thought,’ he said.

‘Your ears pricked up before the game when Damien Hardwick says he’s only going to be 80 per cent fit.

‘He was a bit of a liability last night, Dustin Martin, they didn’t want to get him on the ground in the vital moments … Just three touches [in the fourth quarter], all of those in the defensive half and for the last half of the last quarter they couldn’t or didn’t want to get him on the ground.

‘So a warning to other coaches, injured players – regardless of how good they are and regardless of their reputation – doesn’t often work in finals, I don’t think.’

North Melbourne premiership winner David King agreed with Cornes and said Martin’s limited mobility rubbed off on other players.

‘Just the fact that he’s out there, he takes a match-up and you get the domino effect, you get lesser-ranked players against other talent in that Richmond forward line, and you’d have to say the Richmond forward line functioned, they’ve finished with 16.8, so I don’t agree with that opinion,’ he said.

‘I understand you’re hot on the decision to play him, but why wouldn’t you play him? What he’s done in finals, we haven’t seen a player like this before in finals.

‘So when he’s declared fit to play, what, you don’t play him?’ 

Martin charges onto the field at the Gabba for the elimination final against the Brisbane Lions

Martin charges onto the field at the Gabba for the elimination final against the Brisbane Lions

Martin charges onto the field at the Gabba for the elimination final against the Brisbane Lions

While Cornes and King lashed the decision to play Martin, the majority of fans had a very different view and praised Richmond for rolling the dice in their all-or-nothing elimination final.

‘It’s a cut throat final, you take chances on great finals players coming off injury. Every team does it, Cornes makes some ridiculous comments,’ Wayne Hardman said.

‘Flip the result. It’s a non issue. Playing dusty wasn’t why they lost. Just typical extremist Cornes and his opinions to get a rise,’ Tim Lower agreed.

‘Kane Cornes needs to calm down. Anyone who has watched any football will say that Dusty may well have been the guy to completely spark them and get a win. It’s all a gamble, and it’s one they had to take. Was an unbelievable game,’ Damian Cafarella added.