Nic Martin celebrates during the round seven match between Essendon and Collingwood at the MCG, April 25, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

NIC MARTIN admits the pre-season request made him raise his eyebrows.

Having played his juniors as a forward, then when overlooked for the draft, working on his endurance to the extent he became a very steady winger at AFL level, the half-back ask was certainly new.

"Never played a minute down back in my life during juniors," Martin told

"When the message was floated during pre-season about me possibly playing half-back, I had a little bit of a giggle.

"But it was serious, so I got to work in the pre-season and I'm trying to build every week and improve."

Nic Martin and Shai Bolton during the round 11 match between Richmond and Essendon at the MCG, May 25, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

The 23-year-old is averaging an astonishing 30.6 disposals this year, well up on last year's 22.0 on the wing, with his intercept possessions sitting at 5.7.

He's a key part of Essendon's rebound, his work-rate and calmness with ball in hand setting up the Bombers time and time again.

"There are a lot of tricks of the trade. I've got a great support system down back, Mason Redman and Andy McGrath specifically, as high backs – their expertise and experience, they've got a wealth of knowledge," Martin said.

"(Backline coach) Benny Jacobs as well, I've been working closely with him. But when I say 'me', a lot of our defensive transition and numbering off, it probably wasn't my strong suit at the start of my career.

"So that's what I've been trying to improve every week."

Essendon solidified second spot on the ladder with a two-goal win over Richmond in Dreamtime at the 'G, returning defender Jordan Ridley starring on the opposing flank to Martin, named winner of the Yiooken Trophy.


"Dreamtime, they're always tough games, Essendon and Richmond, we saw that last year and we expected nothing less. It doesn't matter where these two teams are on the ladder, they're always close games and it's a really special day to be a part of.

"(Richmond's Noah) Balta has been playing predominantly forward this year, and he was swung back, so it was a shorter forward line, but our system prevailed. I thought Jordan was good, I thought Ben McKay was good, and I'm generally playing on smaller opponents anyway.

"[Ridley] hasn't missed a beat. I thought it was tricky conditions … it was dewy and wet, and he was just super clean in the air and on the ground. It was an absolute pleasure to have Jordan back."