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Forward thinking for ‘two-metre Peter’

Peter Wright is the kind of talent that has football departments salivating.

At 203cm and 102kg, the Gold Coast Suns’ first pick and eighth overall selection in the 2014 National Draft is already a colossus capable of mixing it physically with AFL heavyweights.

But sheer size isn’t where it starts and ends for the man dubbed ‘two-metre Peter.’

A quality option up forward or in the ruck for the Calder Cannons and Vic Metro, Wright is renowned for his ability to convert set shots – an attribute he believes comes instinctively.

“I’ve always been a bit of a natural kick for goal,” Wright said.

“Once he gets his body right and fills out, I reckon he’s going to be an absolute ripper player” – Jake Lever on Peter Wright

“I think just having a football in my hands all the time has helped me from a young age to be a pretty fluent kick, but I’ve always done a lot of work on it.”

Asked if any coaches deserve a mention for assisting in the process, Wright offered one name.

“Leon Harris from Maribyrnong College has always said ‘if you can’t kick, you can’t play.’ That’s always been a focus.

“I’ve always wanted to be able to kick well and try and test myself against the mids. The best mids are regarded as better kicks than the bigs.”

An imposing stature complemented by great mobility and deft ball skills for his size makes Wright a prime example of the ruck/forward prototype.

Double figure hit-outs in six of his 13 TAC Cup matches last season shows he can get around the ground, yet there is little doubt in Wright’s mind he belongs most up forward.

“That’s what they’re developing me as so far. I’m in the forwards group and doing all the forwards stuff alongside Tom Lynch and Charlie Dixon.

“I’m really happy with that and hoping to get some good development. Seeing those boys on the track, you’re learning just by competing with them.”

331 ind camp 2015

Peter Wright with Calder-turned-Gold Coast teammate Touk Miller at the AFL Players’ Induction Camp

The Calder Cannons have a rich history of producing AFL players, and the class of 2014 is no exception.

Nine players – Paul Ahern, Damien Cavka, Jayden Foster, Matthew Goodyear, Jake Lever, Touk Miller, Reilly O’Brien, Roarke Smith and Wright – all find themselves at AFL clubs after honing their craft at the Cannons.

Wright speaks glowingly of his TAC Cup teammates and has been taking note of their pre-season progress and demands.

“Love all the boys at Calder, definitely keeping in contact… We’ll always have that relationship knowing we all come from the same place.

“Round 1 obviously is thrown around a lot, so I think if I can set my sights on that it will be a good motivator” – Peter Wright

“Some of them were doing a lot less (training) than what we were doing, some of them have done all of it, so it’s different.

“We’ll be comparing how we are all tracking as we go along.”

It’s clear the Calder class of 2014 is a close-knit bunch; the comradery is at such a level that even the man former teammate and Adelaide recruit Jake Lever describes as a “straight-shooter” says there’s likely to be some friendly banter on the field between the former teammates in 2015 and beyond.

“There might be (banter) on the field, as we run past someone gives a little comment here and there,” Wright smiled.

“Just a bit of competitiveness to see who can get games and have a better career.”

Lever knows Wright well, describing him as a measured young man with a “clean” persona and, unsurprisingly, tremendous football potential.

“He’s not really a jokester, he’s a bit quiet, but once you get to know him he’s a great bloke,” Lever said.

“Once he gets his body right and fills out to whatever he’s going to be, I reckon he’s going to be an absolute ripper player.”

The summation goes a fair way to explaining Wright’s personal expectations for the season.

“I don’t think you can set a goal for a certain amount of games or anything like that,” Wright said.

“Still a bit of a dream but something I hope gets realised is debuting this year. Round 1 obviously is thrown around a lot, so I think if I can set my sights on that it will be a good motivator for pre-season… But I’m not expecting too much.”

You could call it a conservative approach from a top 10 pick, an under-sell of his ability. Others might call it a realistic mindset, healthy in a high-pressure environment that demands so much so quickly. Whether it’s modesty or just a level-headed approach, the 18-year-old Sun with all the physical attributes you could want in a footballer appears to have the mental maturity to match.

Watch as Wright and other draftees share their first impressions of life in the AFL