Port Adelaide great Kane Cornes has questioned Richmond’s decision to play an “80 per cent fit” Dustin Martin in Thursday night’s Elimination Final loss to Brisbane at the Gabba.
Martin on Thursday night returned from a lengthy lay-off, which began in round 16 after a hamstring injury.
Tigers coach Damien Hardwick suggested during his weekly press conference Martin may only be playing at 80 per cent capacity but that it was worth the risk given the three-time Norm Smith medallist’s finals pedigree.
Watch every AFL final until the Grand Final Live & On-Demand on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
Martin finished with one goal and four score involvements from 15 disposals, but just three of those disposals came in the final term with the game up for grabs.
Cornes, speaking on SEN Breakfast, took issue with Martin’s selection.
“(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.”
Cornes’ co-host, two-time premiership North Melbourne player David King, said he held a “contrary view”.
“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.
“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, Cornes said, “looked way underdone”.