Peter Wright is a 203cm likely top draft pick in 2014
THERE were times last summer when Peter Wright might have wished he was a bit shorter.
Wright is a big, strong-marking forward who leads hard at the ball, kicks straight and can be moved into the ruck.
Already the 17-year-old, at 201cm, has clubs thinking he will be a top choice at next year's NAB AFL Draft. But, perhaps for the first time, Wright found his size has its disadvantages.
While playing for his local side Moonee Valley in the finals series, Wright jumped for a mark, landed flat on his back and felt the effects. He knew the next day, and the day after that, that something wasn't right, but he didn't know how bad it was.
"I was just going back with the flight of the ball and fell straight on my back. I pulled up sore after that and it took a long time to get right. I had a bulged disc," Wright told AFL.com.au.
"It added to the time out because I'm tall. Being tall, it took a bit more time to get ready. I had 10 months out and had to slowly build up my strength, and the strength and conditioning coach at Calder Cannons did a really good job of getting me up to play this season."
Wright, an AIS-AFL Academy member, had to wait until round nine to return for the Cannons. It was a new experience for him, as he fought to pick up form as quickly as possible.
He felt out of his depth at the start, and focused on running to the right spots, making more leads, and building some chemistry with his teammates.
"The first few games I was pretty rusty, and just finding my way a little bit," he said.
"But after the first few I thought I played some OK, consistent footy. I've been happy with the second half of the year."
With good reason. Wright has kicked a goal in all but one of his 11 games, for a total of 27 so far. On Saturday, he will line up for the Cannons in their preliminary final against the Dandenong Stingrays at Visy Park.
In last week's semi-final win over the Western Jets, Wright had a quiet start but worked into the game, and kicked an important goal in the final term.
After back injuries over the past few years as he has grown into his body, Wright already knows what he wants to achieve this summer, as he heads towards the 2014 draft intake.
Improving his running and fitness is a priority so that he can hit next year in shape and ready, aware people will be watching and talking about his every mark, kick and goal.
"You just don't take too much notice of that sort of stuff (the hype)," Wright said.
"Obviously I'm really looking forward to next year. I've loved the challenge of playing against some really good players this year, and I cant wait to get into it again next year."