Dustin Martin may have landed in hot water with this angry sledge.
Dustin Martin may have landed in hot water with this angry sledge.

Twist in AFL star's scandalous sledge

Dustin Martin's rough start to the year may get even worse with fresh reports suggesting the AFL will investigate an alleged drugs-related sledge during Richmond's loss to GWS in Sydney on Saturday.

After missing a kick at goal, Martin stuck up his middle finger at a rival, reported to be Giants ruckman Shane Mumford. He then made a gesture with his finger on his nose, which some suggest was a reference to Mumford's scandal where a video emerged last year showing him snorting white powder.

The video was several years old but only made its way into the public domain last year, causing a storm in the footy world.

Channel 7 AFL reporter Tom Browne said on Weekend Sunrise Martin was referencing Mumford's controversy before reporting the league will investigate the incident further.

The news comes after earlier reports the AFL didn't have an issue with Martin's gesture.

Martin had been criticised for his defensive pressure in the opening rounds of the season - failing to lay a tackle in the Tigers' first two games - and although he was better without the ball against GWS he was still off the pace in some areas and the home side was too good, winning 19.11 (125) to 10.16 (76).

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said the Tigers can't rely on the out-of-sorts superstar to perform at an incredible level each week and the team has to lift.

Martin had little impact in Saturday's 49-point loss and was visibly frustrated by the attention he got from the Giants' Matt de Boer. The 2017 Brownlow and Norm Smith Medallist appeared to catch an opponent with a high shot which could attract the attention of the Match Review Officer to go with his headline-grabbing sledge.

Martin tallied six tackles against GWS, but in his 10th AFL season, Martin has for the first time failed to kick a goal after three rounds. For the first season since 2016 Richmond has conceded more than 100 points and lost by more than 40 in successive games after a blowout defeat to Collingwood last round.

Asked if he was concerned about Martin's form Hardwick said: "No, I'm concerned about our team's form.

Dustin Martin and his Tigers teammates have struggled in 2019.
Dustin Martin and his Tigers teammates have struggled in 2019.

"We can quite easily lump it on an individual or we can say there's 22 blokes out there.

'We can't rely on Dustin to play to an incredible level week in week out. We expect as a team to respond and play better, end of story."

The Tigers' injury toll continues to mount, with the addition of captain Trent Cotchin (hamstring) and Jayden Short (dislocated elbow), with Hardwick unsure of the severity of each.

While the Tigers have slipped to 1-2, Hardwick extracted some positives from Saturday's game. He feels they've unearthed a legitimate AFL player in Sydney Slack. The 18-year-old West Australian tallied 17 possessions, eight marks and a booming 50-metre plus set shot goal and put a big hit on lively Giants forward Brent Daniels.

"We probably picked him tonight on a little bit of a speculative vibe, but the reality was he was fantastic," Hardwick said.

"He's very clean with the ball in hand, he makes terrific decisions and he's powerful and strong."

Hardwick also praised 19-year-old Noah Balta's effort in his second senior game and anticipated Richmond's injury issues would lead to other youngsters emerging.

Star off-season recruit Tom Lynch kicked four goals, giving him 10 from the first three rounds.

With AAP