Dustin Martin is tackled by Oleg Markov during an AAMI Community Series match on February 27, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

RICHMOND superstar Dustin Martin has been ruled out of Saturday’s Opening Round clash against Gold Coast.

The 32-year-old suffered a corked calf during training at the Swinburne Centre on Tuesday and was cleared of a strain.

But with a five-day turnaround between Opening Round and round one, the Tigers have opted against risking the Brownlow Medallist in Queensland.

It means the intriguing reunion between the triple premiership player and the man who coached Richmond to those flags – Damien Hardwick – has been postponed.

New Richmond coach Adem Yze said the club wasn’t prepared to take the risk with the veteran midfielder in another blow to an engine room that will travel to Queensland without captain Toby Nankveris and midfielder Jack Graham.


"He is a bit sore with a sore calf. The risk of him playing this weekend is going to be too high so we are going to rule him out," Yze told reporters at Punt Road ahead of his first game in charge.

"We’ve got a five-day break leading into the Carlton game. He is too important for us to push him in round zero, flying up there and all those sort of things come into calculations.

"It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, he just wants to play footy; he will be really angry he is not playing because he just loves playing.

"Irrelevant of playing Gold Coast, it's round one and he wants to play, but we’ve got to be really smart."

Richmond ruled out Nankervis on Tuesday due to the lingering plantar fascia issue the ruckman has been dealing with late in the pre-season, opening the door for one of the selection stories of Opening Round. 

Former Sydney Swans ruckman Sam Naismith is in line to play his first game since round four 2020 in what would be his first AFL appearance in 1353 days, after the Tigers provided him with a lifeline last November as a delisted free agent. 

Yze wouldn’t confirm the selection on Thursday morning, but praised the 31-year-old’s perseverance after he was delisted at the end of 2022 following three knee reconstructions and more than a dozen other operations across his nine years with the Swans.

"He is a chance, we will finalise selection today. We’ve got Samson Ryan and Naismith and need to work out if we’re going to play two rucks. He is in good form big Sammy," he said.

"It is an amazing story with the knee reconstructions, the family adversity in his life.

"He stuck to it, played some really good footy at VFL level last year. He is an amazing character, so if he is to play we’d be rapt for him."