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Draper's eyes on the future

BTV: Draper re-signs Young ruckman Sam Draper has signed a four year contract extension to stay at the Bombers.
I’m really happy that the club has put its faith in me."
Sam Draper

Exciting young ruckman Sam Draper says he has confidence that the club’s “exciting young group” is getting where it wants to be.

Draper has signed a new four-year contract extension to stay on at The Hangar in a strong display of shared faith between the promising 20-year-old and his club.

The 203cm Bomber has been stuck on the sidelines since May as he recovers from an unfortunate ACL tear, but he is excited by the prospect of playing a key role in the future of the club.

“It’s really exciting to say that I’m staying at Essendon, we’ve got such a good, young group here and I’m really excited to be a part of it,” Draper said.

“Coming off a knee, that’s what I really wanted and I’m really happy that the club has put its faith in me and I’m looking forward to the next four years.”

 

Draper was a revelation in 2017, finishing equal-fifth in the VFL best and fairest after recording more than 40 hitouts on seven occasions including three games of 60 or more hitouts.

The young gun was only able to play three full games this year before suffering the knee injury against Geelong at the MCG in May, but his terrific form – averaging 15 disposals and 29 hitouts – showed his rapid rise was continuing.

“It was frustrating to get injured this year, I thought I was hitting some form, but I’m still young at the end of the day.

“I’ll move onto next year and hopefully be fine for the start of round one.”

Draper paid credit to a pair of experienced ruckmen for helping guide his development in his early days at the club, but his injury has seen him settle under the wings of an injured duo this year.

Midfielder Devon Smith has been particularly supportive this year as Draper – a former soccer player – has expanded his knowledge of the game through coaching opportunities.

“Early (retired Bomber) Matt Leuenberger and Tom Bellchambers (helped me), but then more so this year Joey Daniher and Devon Smith – obviously because they’ve been in rehab, so I’ve been spending a lot of time with them.

“Me and Dev have sat down and written my goals out and it’s been really beneficial for me.

“(My goals are to) get stronger in the gym and then getting fitter when I’m out on the track. And then just learning more about the game itself, taking a step back.

“I’ve been coaching a bit in the VFL as well, which I think is helping my development, and then just doing all I can to get back out on the track.

“It was frustrating early, because I just wanted to be out there, but I think now it’s good to just have a different view at it and see what it’s like from a coach’s perspective and hopefully that can help me when I start playing again next year.”

Draper flies for a hitout against Casey in 2018. (Image: AFL Photos)

Now three months on from the disappointing injury, Draper is pleased with his progress and looking forward to returning to the track in the coming weeks.

“(It has been) pretty smooth sailing so far, I’ve been pretty lucky that I’ve been on track.

“I’ve just got to keep progressing. It was pretty slow initially as knees can be, but this next phase will be pretty good; I start my run prep and then start running next month, so I’m looking forward to that.”

The contract extension will see Draper stay at The Hangar until at least the end of the 2023 season.