The Rent Is Due, Mr Draper

After struggling through the back half of 2023, Sam Draper is currently rehabbing from off-season groin surgery and eyeing a January return to full training.

With another year under his belt, big things are expected of him. Hell, big things are REQUIRED of him.

We all know that elite rucks take time to develop. We get beaten over the head with this from experts.

It took Max Gawn four years in the system before he found his way in his fifth (and gave up the durries). It took until year four for Nic Nat to hit 20 hit outs per game. The big guys… they can just be slow on the uptake.

Some people become impatient whilst waiting for their resident big man to start taking over games, whilst others are a little more reserved about the situation. All good things take time, after all.

How much time differs from player to player.

The case for patience is particularly important when the ruckmen in question are in their early 20s, however, as time ticks away and those blokes start to move into their mid-20s, the number of people feeling patient and reserved starts to dwindle. Some people start wondering not how long it will be before their ruckman starts to take games over, but whether it will occur at all.

And then the doubts start creeping in. What if all we have is a middling ruckman? What if he has another season spoilt by injury?

You look for some signs – moments, initially to indicate that there is still plenty to work with. You need to know that there is more to look forward to. You look for development, for nuances in his game you need to convince you he’ll come good.

He will come good, won’t he?

With that, I wonder how Essendon supporters feel about the development of Sam Draper to this point of his career? I am sure quite a few will let me know exactly how they feel after reading this article, but I reckon a few might be concluding that it is high time the big fella starts paying his way.

Drafted in 2017, this is his seventh season on the books at Essendon. The rent is due for Sam Draper.


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