Peter Wright – Round 15 NAB Rising Star

476070090Whenever a young key forward has a breakout game, people tend to sit up and take notice and that is exactly what they have done in the case of Gold Coast’s Peter Wright.

The 19-year-old known as ‘Two-metre Peter’ produced one of those games against St Kilda on Saturday, booting a career-high three goals and plucking 10 marks to be the round 15 nominee for the 2016 NAB AFL Rising Star award.

Wright, pick No.8 in the 2014 draft, has matured considerably in his second season at AFL level and is making the most of the opportunities presented to him after Charlie Dixon departed for Port Adelaide in the off-season.

“It’s really stemmed from a big pre-season in the gym and getting my fitness up out on the track with the new fitness staff we’ve got here,” Wright told AFL.com.au.

“I was able to get a lot stronger through the legs and my high-intensity running has definitely improved which has allowed me to compete on game day.

“Then the exposure of playing against and alongside really good players, you definitely learn a lot each week and I’m trying to put those little stepping stones in place.”

Wright, who stands at an imposing 203cm and 103kg, lost seven kilograms of fat and put on seven kilograms of muscle as he addressed his body composition over the pre-season.

“I’m already stronger in the gym but I’m a bit leaner now and I’m able to cover the ground a little bit better,” Wright said.

Having Wright (203cm), Tom Lynch (199cm) and Sam Day (197cm) in the same forward line is a fearsome sight for any backline to contend with.

But Wright, who is signed with Gold Coast until the end of 2017, said the tall trio was still a work in progress.

“I’m loving playing with Sam and Tom. The more minutes we get together, the more continuity and synergy we’ll be able to build,” Wright said.

“The big one for us is staying out of each other’s way and getting some good isolation and making sure we get those one-on-ones.”

Wright, who played his junior footy at Moonee Valley Football Club, hopes to continue to improve his bodywork in marking contests, as well as applying considerable forward-line pressure.

Lynch, who is ranked No.1 in the AFL for contested marks, and Day, considered elite in the forward line pressure category for a player of his height, are great mentors for the young forward.

“If I can continue to pull my weight with my forward pressure, we won’t feel like we’re too slow or tall in attack,” Wright said.

The ‘Two-metre Peter’ moniker has really started to catch on and Wright said he had no choice but to accept the nickname, which he thinks originated during his time at his TAC Cup club Calder Cannons, as well as when he played for Vic Metro in the 2014 NAB AFL Under-18 Championships.

“Once it’s thrown upon you, you’ve got no choice but to adopt it,” Wright said.

“If you try to fight it, it becomes more of a thing, so I’ve just got to roll with it.”