July 25, 2024

Essendon’s Sam Draper has allegedly faced reprimand from club officials after circulating rumors concerning rival team Western Bulldogs.

The prominent forward attracted attention earlier this week with remarks suggesting that several senior Bulldogs players might seek to depart if coach Luke Beveridge continues leading the team into 2025.

AFL 2022: Western Bulldogs state of play, deep dive, analysis, statistics,  premiership contention, midfield, team news, latest, updates, Marcus  Bontempelli, Luke Beveridge, Josh Bruce

During a podcast released on Tuesday titled Clubby Sports 200+, Draper asserted as a journalist, “I’ve got a big call about the Doggies. If Bevo’s still there, there’ll be some players requesting trades.”

Draper specifically claimed that injured Bulldogs star Bailey Smith would seek a new team next year should Beveridge remain at the helm. Beveridge, the premiership-winning coach, is under contract until the conclusion of the 2025 season.

Smith was previously linked to trade discussions during the 2023 AFL Trade Period, and reports have surfaced this year indicating that clubs, including Geelong and Collingwood, are preparing to pursue Smith once he becomes a free agent at the end of the 2024 season.

On the podcast, Draper further speculated that Bailey Dale, Jack Macrae, and Caleb Daniel might also depart, stating confidently that Smith was “gone.”

Draper’s remarks have intensified speculation, prompting the Bulldogs to reportedly demand an apology on Wednesday.

Essendon officials purportedly issued an apology to Beveridge on Wednesday, with The Herald Sun initially reporting that Draper also personally apologized to Beveridge.

According to the report, Essendon addressed the matter with Draper internally but did not impose any formal disciplinary measures.

During his scheduled press conference, Beveridge dismissed the “bizarre” comments, stating, “We are breaking ground all the time, aren’t we? It was bizarre to me.”

He added, “I’m not going to say anything about it really because I think the people that became aware of it and are close to him and their football club were extremely alarmed and reached out to me and expressed their apologies.”

Beveridge emphasized that his primary concern is the well-being and support of his players, stating, “Ultimately, as I’ve expressed in the past, my number one concern is just our players are taken care of and supported. When something like that happens to me, I can deal with it. It was unusual.”

Sam Draper has been making headlines recently. Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images.

“We all have thoughts and emotions during the game, and we’re connected to many people across the sport. However, it’s not typical to express these thoughts publicly. I believe he’s reflected on it and wouldn’t repeat it.”

Regarding Smith, the seventh pick in the 2018 draft, he is sidelined for the rest of the season due to a ruptured ACL and has been undergoing surgery. Beveridge mentioned on Thursday that Smith’s recovery from the injury is progressing well.

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