05/03/2024
Peter Wright Dyson Heppell

Peter Wright had a career-high seven goals against the Dogs in Round 21. Photo: Essendon FC

Off the back of his seven-goal performance against the top-of-the-table Dogs, Peter Wright has praised the leaders of the Bombers for building his confidence to all-time highs, in particular skipper Dyson Heppell.

Off the back of his seven-goal performance against the top-of-the-table Dogs, Peter Wright has praised the leaders of the Bombers for building his confidence to all-time highs, in particular skipper Dyson Heppell.

It was a performance that Essendon fans have been crying out for from a key forward. One in which a player would command the forward half, clunking marks and kicking for goal with deadly accuracy.

Wright kicked seven straight for his club, and has carried promising form up until this point. Speaking to the media on Wednesday, he was quick to sing the praises of the coaching staff and leaders at the club, who have made him the most confident version of himself in the AFL.

“I think I’ve shown probably bits and pieces in the past of my best football in the past, but it’s about putting it together, and I think the last five or six weeks I’ve probably been able to, I guess, consistently impact games which is a big focus,” Wright said.

“I think I’ve just got a lot of faith from the coaches, and them to just show that in me I guess I’m just looking to repay that.

“For probably the last month to six weeks I’ve been able to just grow my confidence each week and feel like I really belong out there and contribute for us in our wins.”

It’s a direct line of feedback, and open connection with forwards coach Dan Jordan and head coach Ben Rutten that has assisted Wright the most in getting to the point of ripping games apart with best on ground displays in the forward 50.

“Since I’ve walked in the door it’s been a lot focusing on my contest work, making sure I’m just being a big target for our backs and mids, and just bringing the ball to ground.

“So my work this year has been a lot around being consistent and bringing the ball to ground, and if I can do that and play my role, then obviously you hope to get on the end of a few at the end of the day. It’s more about just being consistent for us.”

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His form has been a far cry from the lack of football he was able to play up on the Gold Coast. The 24-year-old didn’t play a game in 2020, toiling away in the intra-clubs and scratch-match formats that Reserves sides were able to scrounge together with no competition.

“I definitely felt like I was capable of playing some really good football up there, and I was disappointed and a little bit frustrated with the last 12-18 months I had there.

“Just the faith I’ve been given since I walked in the door from Truck, and Dan Jordan and all the coaches has probably helped make me feel really confident, like I’m a valued contributor to this team.

“I think that’s probably helped as the year has progressed to build my confidence and help me realise the contribution I can have on a team, week-to-week.”

Essendon captain Dyson Heppell shared an exchange between the two after the game on the weekend where-in he jokingly told Peter Wright he had him penned down for five goals against the Western Bulldogs.

It was a lighthearted message, but it offers an insight into how important Heppell’s relationship has been for Wright to build his confidence in his new surroundings. It’s a friendship that the former Sun says he values immensely, and a glimpse into the leader that Heppell is for the younger players at the club.

“‘Hep’s’ [Dyson Heppell’s] been amazing. I just love how consistent he is across week-to-week, day-to-day and with everyone,” Wright stated.

“He treats everyone the same and he’s always just his authentic self which is huge in a leader. When he talks everyone always listens to what he has to say and he says the right things at the right time.

“He’s been great for me, and I’m really loving our relationship as well, but as a leader I really can’t fault him; I think he’s been huge for us.

“He’s had some adversity this year with his body at different times as well but he just doesn’t waver with the way he contributes to the group and I think everybody loves that about him and we love him as our skipper.”

Heppell missed last week’s boil-over win with another bout of surgery to mend a fracture in his left thumb. He is expected back this weekend for a must-win clash over Wright’s former side Gold Coast.

If the Bombers are able to win their remaining two games against the Suns and Magpies, they would only need the Eagles or Giants to drop one of their remaining games to make the finals, which would make for one of the surprises of season 2021.

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