Tapping into the potential of Zach Reid could serve as a major bonus in Essendon’s 2024 development.

Since being selected with pick No.10 in the 2020 national draft, Reid has endured a challenging string of injuries which have limited the talented tall to eight games across three seasons (seven of those coming in 2022).

After undergoing hamstring surgery last July, a lengthy recovery period has seen the 21-year-old back at full fitness this pre-season, feeling the best he has in his short career to date.


Managing his training loads and drawing his focus back to basics, the 205cm defender is relishing an uninterrupted run on the track.

“I’m feeling really good at the moment. I’m so much fresher heading through this pre-season than the past few I’ve experienced,” Reid said.

“I feel a lot stronger functionally around my hips, which had been a massive focus over my off-season, more so than just getting really big or heavy. I feel strong and I’ve loved moving into more consistent training again.”

Throughout a frustrating 2023 season, Reid found himself able to lean on his teammates to aid his hamstring rehab, notably in the form of Harry Jones and fellow 2020 draft partner Nik Cox.

Growing the connection amongst the side’s younger crop, Reid believes the support of the playing group alongside the medical team leant an important hand throughout the past year.


“It can get really lonely in rehab sometimes. Guys like Nik Cox, Harry Jones and myself were going through similar injuries so we were able to lean on each other and help on the way through,” Reid said.

“‘Jonesy’ brings a lot of energy and ‘Coxy’ loves a bit of banter, which did heaps for us. Along with the physios, those guys were really important.”

Highly rated for his clean foot skills and intercept ability throughout the early stages of his footy career, Reid has been honing in on building his physicality for a return to senior level.

With the Bombers’ back six taking shape via the recruitment of Ben McKay and the emerging development of defenders such as Lewis Hayes and Kaine Baldwin, Reid is excited by the opportunity to keep learning as he slots back into the mix.


“I’ve been at work on my marking and defensive craft, being able to use my body a bit more in the contest,” Reid said.

“Throughout my juniors I was definitely more of a ‘run-and-jump’ style of player because I was a bit skinnier than most, so it’s been good to start putting on a bit of weight and use that to my advantage in the air.

“Ben (McKay) is an established key defender and one of the best intercept players in the comp, so I definitely want to learn as much as I can off him.

“I’ve had meetings with him and (Assistant Coach) Ben Jacobs to build some connection and get us on the same page, so I’m looking forward to seeing where that goes.”

As the Bombers continue to build through their pre-season, Reid knows the group’s expectations and standards have been set.

“We all know what our brand is (after building it last year) and we have an understanding over what the non-negotiables are with our chase and pressure efforts,” Reid said.

“Everyone’s on the same page about that, we’re all really excited for this year.”