Essendon fans left 'absolutely devastated' over news about Peter Wright

The unfortunate blow came just hours after it was announced Peter Wright had signed a long-term extension with the club.

Peter Wright.
Peter Wright is awaiting scans to determined how long he will be sidelined with a shoulder injury he sustained at training prior to round one. (Photo by Jason McCawley/AFL Photos/via Getty Images )

Essendon Bombers fans have been dealt a bitter blow on the eve of their AFL season getting underway, with reigning club best and fairest Peter Wright ruled out for round one on Sunday. The towering forward left the Bombers' training session on Friday morning after suffering a shoulder injury.

The injury came mere hours after it was announced Wright had signed a four-year extension to stay at Essendon, after emerging as a rare bright spot in the Bombers' chaotic 2022 season. Fans were left heartbroken when it emerged the 26-year-old would not line up against Hawthorn after dislocating his shoulder.

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It's a brutal setback for the Bombers as they look to put a tumultuous 2022 behind them under new head coach Brad Scott. In a recent survey of AFL captains, none of the 17 other skippers picked the Bombers to make the top eight this year, a prospect made more difficult by any absence from their star forward.

Wright made a stunning emergence as a key forward last season, booting 56 goals in his beast season since being traded to the Bombers from the Gold Coast Suns for a fourth-round draft pick. The club will have to wait for scans to come back to determine the full extent of the injury.

"He won't play against Hawthorn on Sunday," the Bombers said in a statement. "He has been sent for scans this afternoon with the results to dictate the next course of action for him. The club will work through rehab options in the coming days."

Wright's injury puts pressure on recruit Sam Weideman and likely young forward Harrison Jones to carry the load up forward at the MCG on Sunday.

Before the injury, Scott had hailed Wright's re-signing as a massive show of faith in Essendon's direction. The lead-up to Scott's first game at the helm has been enveloped by media reports and speculation surrounding off-field tensions at the Bombers, specifically between list manager Adrian Dodoro and football boss Josh Mahoney.

Bombers hoping to embrace stability after off-field dramas

It follows a chaotic second half of 2022, when Essendon underwent board upheaval, sacked then-coach Ben Rutten and later hired Scott which prompted director Kevin Sheedy to publicly say he'd have preferred James Hird. Scott dismissed suggestions the Bombers' headlining-grabbing internal politics could affect his or his players' focus.

"Zero impact on me. Clearly the club has been through some pretty unstable times and we are searching for stability and I think that's really, really important but I wouldn't be standing here as coach right now if everything was perfect," Scott said.

"So it fits into what we've been saying around we certainly need to shift things culturally and we need to improve and the reality is we sit a long way off the best teams right at the moment. But that's why change has been made and we've got a lot of work to do to bring that stability that Essendon's craved for a long time.

"It's not ideal, but I mean it's not something that is going to shift my focus. My focus is absolutely where it needs to be, which is on the game this weekend and it hasn't interrupted our preparation."

Peter Wright high-fives Essendon teammates.
Peter Wright established himself as a fixture of Essendon's future in 2022, kicking 56 goals. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, midfielder Dylan Shiel has called on critics to stop shaming Jake Stringer, saying it's time to celebrate what the powerful big man brings rather than what he lacks. Stringer will miss Essendon's round-one clash with Hawthorn at the MCG on Sunday after failing to overcome a hamstring niggle.

The 28-year-old has been troubled by a raft of injuries during his five-year stint at the Bombers, with some critics questioning his commitment to fitness standards. Shiel deflected a question about whether Stringer had turned up to pre-season training out of shape and said it was time for people to stop shaming the 192cm, 92kg star.

With AAP

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