Alex Rance is desperate for star Richmond teammate Dustin Martin to remain at Punt Road, but he won’t try to convince the prolific onballer to sign a new AFL deal.
Martin, who is out of contract at the end of the season when he will become a free agent, has reportedly put negotiations with the club on hold.
Rance went through a similar experience when he and his management were locked in protracted negotiations before he signed a four-year extension in 2015.
The club, coach Damien Hardwick and Rance were forced to deal with the intense media speculation that accompanied the contract impasse, with similar conjecture sure to follow Martin this season as long as he remains unsigned.
Asked if he would seek to counsel his younger teammate, Rance argued their situations were different.
“My path was completely different to his and I’m not sure too many blokes would walk the same (path),” Rance said.
“So my advice probably wouldn’t apply to Dustin or any other guys who are coming into free agency.
“(But) if he had any issues or felt uncomfortable in any way I know he’d come to me as a mate.
“Our role as a playing group is just to make sure that he’s OK, to make sure that he’s playing football and still enjoying it.
“So we’re completely comfortable with Dusty … the way he’s training is the best in his career.
“I’m not too worried.”
With Brett Deledio’s trade to Greater Western Sydney and Ivan Maric’s expected departure from the leadership group, Rance and Shane Edwards will be the only remaining deputies to skipper Trent Cotchin.
The time would seem right for veteran teammate Jack Riewoldt to take up an official leadership role for the first time since 2014, but Rance wasn’t keen to offer his thoughts on the Tigers’ likely leadership structure.
“That’s something we haven’t really focused on this pre-season … we’ve really just focused on building some good strong relationships,” he said.
“We’ve got a really young group now. With Brett and Troy (Chaplin) leaving that does leave a bit of a space there for some young guys to step up.
“It’s a time where we’ve been focusing on getting around each other and playing some good, fun, enjoyable footy.”