‘There’s more important things than footy’: Martin could visit his dad in NZ while sidelined

Richmond superstar Dustin Martin has been granted permission to travel overseas to visit his father in the coming days, but the Tigers have been told the triple Norm Smith medallist won’t receive any special treatment should he encounter any COVID-related border issues.

Martin will miss the Richmond’s round seven clash against the Western Bulldogs as a result of a head knock he suffered in Saturday’s loss to Melbourne and the AFL’s 12-day concussion protocols.

Richmond had asked the AFL for advice in determining whether Martin would be permitted to visit his New Zealand-based father Shane Martin, who was deported from Australia in 2016, during his injury-enforced absence.

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Several outlets reported the AFL told the Tigers that Martin could travel to New Zealand in line with Australia’s trans-Tasman bubble.

Tigers coach Damien Hardwick on Wednesday confirmed Martin would fly across the ditch to visit his father.

Martin’s trip will be short – the Tigers play Geelong on a Friday night in round eight – while he will have to adhere to any quarantine arrangements should a COVID-19 outbreak force border closures.

Despite the risk, Hardwick said it was a “no-brainer” to let Martin visit his dad.

“He’ll go and see his dad, he hasn’t seen him for a long period of time,” Hardwick said.

“He just happens to be overseas, that’s a little bit challenging in these COVID times – but we’ll always support our players.

“At the end of the day you can live your life in fear, or you can choose to live.”

Dustin Martin’s father Shane Martin reacts after Richmond’s 2019 Grand Final triumph. Picture: Brett PhibbsSource:AAP

Speaking on Fox Footy’s AFL 360, Tigers teammate Jack Riewoldt said the club would likely be understanding of the superstar midfielder’s wishes.

“The travel bubble’s open, (but) I don’t know medically where it sits with concussion,” Riewoldt said.

“His father obviously lives in New Zealand and he hasn’t seen him for 18 months. I assume if it comes to the club, the club would be more than happy to let him go. He’s obviously going to miss this week.

“I guess there‘s more important things than football at the moment.”

Martin’s father, Shane, was deported to New Zealand in 2016 under Australia’s Immigration Act on the grounds of bad character, as the country launched a fresh crackdown on bikie gangs.

The two haven’t seen each other in person for almost 18 months, as a result of the global pandemic.

In an exclusive interview with Fox Footy’s Nick Riewoldt last month, Martin said he still held hopes his dad could see him play live in a Grand Final before his career is over.

“It’s been a massive challenge, but it is what it is,” Martin said.

“I love my dad and he’s made me the man I am today. I’ve got full belief he’ll back here to watch us win another flag.

“That’s my dream to be able to have the old man up there (in the grandstand) with the rest of my family and watch the Tigers win another flag.”

Originally published asDustin Martin cleared to visit exiled dad

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