**Richmond re-sign Reece Conca but will play hard ball with Dustin Martin ** Jon Ralph •From: News Limited Network •September 20, 2013
RICHMOND has re-signed promising midfielder Reece Conca on a three-year deal as it plays hard ball with mercurial talent Dustin Martin.
The Tigers still believe they can keep Martin but for now have taken their offer for the 22-year-old off the table while he negotiates with other clubs.
Martin and his manager, Ralph Carr, yesterday flew to Sydney and met with a delegation of Greater Western Sydney officials after flying to Sydney.
But the signing of Conca is a major boost to Richmond, given his contract negotiations had threatened to turn nasty.
The 21-year-old former No.6 draft pick was being linked to Fremantle, but has been rated by former Richmond assistant coach David King as the Tigers’ second-most important midfielder behind captain Trent Cotchin.
The three-year deal ties Conca to Punt Rd until the end the of 2016.
“It was never in doubt that I would re-sign with Richmond,’’ Conca said.
“It was just a matter of sorting through the details. I am very grateful for the opportunity the club has given me and I am excited about what the future holds.’’
Coach Damien Hardwick said the club was excited to have secured Conca.
“Reece took his game to *another level in 2013, and, at just 21 years of age, we believe he still has plenty of improvement in him.”
In Sydney, Martin and Carr were met by GWS senior coach Leon Cameron, list manager Stephen Silvagni and chief executive David Matthews, touring Skoda Stadium and the club’s Sydney Olympic Park training facilities.
Martin’s father lives in Camden in southwest Sydney and, while GWS is keen, it has not offered Martin a deal.
The Giants let Richmond know they were talking to Martin yesterday, and must decide whether to make an official offer for him.
The Tigers had tired of four months of frustrating negotiations talks with Carr, who is desperate keen to extract $600,000 a season for his starclient.
It is understood the Tigers do not have an offer on the table for Martin at present given the contract impasse.
The Tigers still want to sign Martin but a two-year deal of about $1 million has been withdrawn, with negotiations to start anew if he chooses Richmond as his preferred home.
They still want to sign Martin, but grew frustrated by Carr’s negotiating tactics and the fact they believed they were on the verge of an agreement before the latest developments.
While Brisbane has expressed early interest, it is still unlikely to push hard for Martin given his off-field troubles and salary requirements.
The Lions are not officially out of the race but given they do not have a coach and are still recovering from the Brendan Fevola trade, they are long odds for a concerted bid for Martin.
It remains to be seen if Martin would relocate to Sydney if he was paid less than $600,000. It means it is effectively the Giants or bust for Martin has denied walking out on Richmond but says he is actively pursuing other offers.
The GWS interest is concerning for Richmond given it has the first pick in the *preseason draft and could get him for nothing if he walks.