Former Murray Bushranger Ryan Garthwaite believes Dustin Martin can go to another gear at Richmond this season.
Garthwaite, 19, was drafted by the AFL outfit last season, but was hard-pressed for senior opportunities as the Tigers went on to break a 37-year premiership drought.
He had a great view of Martin’s stellar season which featured the premiership, Brownlow and Norm Smith medals, All-Australian, Richmond’s Jack Dyer Medal, as well as being voted by opposition players and coaches as the Player of the Year.
But Garthwaite thinks the now AFL cult figure ‘Dusty’ can be even better.
“Being able to train with some of the top athletes in Australia, you learn so much,” Garthwaite said.
“Dusty is just one of those blokes that goes about his business.
“He's got all the talent in the world, but there's not an arrogant bone in his body.
“He's always looking to help someone and help improve your game.
“Obviously when he's on the field he does his thing and we all know how good that is.
“He's an amazing bloke and an amazing footballer.
“Coming off what he did last year, you can't ask for a lot more, but already he's looking for what he can improve to take his game to the next level.”
Martin is a confirmed starter for Saturday’s practice match against Essendon at Wangaratta and Garthwaite is hopeful of lining up alongside him when the team is announced on Thursday.
“It would be amazing to come up and play,” Garthwaite said.
“I know the ground (Norm Minns Oval) inside out.
“If I’m not picked, I’ll be playing a VFL practice match.”
Garthwaite had an interrupted start to his first pre-season at Richmond, battling with a groin complaint, but was one of the Tigers’ best VFL players in the side which was narrowly beaten in the last year’s decider by Port Melbourne.
The young defender has continued to work closely with All-Australian captain and full-back Alex Rance, as well as Tigers’ premiership players David Astbury and Dylan Grimes.
“I can’t speak any higher of them and what they’ve taught me,” Garthwaite said.
“I’ve learnt so much from all the boys in general, but obviously working down there as key backs, what they’ve taught me about footy and everyday life is second to none.
“I’ve only been there for a year, but I’m looking to expand on that this season.”