Frustrating times key to Parish's AFL rise

·3-min read

Essendon's Darcy Parish admits he was somewhat frustrated by limited midfield opportunities in previous AFL seasons but now looks back on that stage as crucial to his development into an elite on-baller.

The 23-year-old has elevated himself this year after injuries to Bombers teammates Jye Caldwell and Dylan Shiel saw him afforded a starting midfield spot alongside Zach Merrett.

Parish is averaging 32 disposals a game, ranked fourth in the competition, and sits second for clearances (8.2) and sixth for contested possessions (14.1).

His performances have seen him win the Anzac Day Medal, Yiooken Award and Tom Wills Award as best afield in feature matches, while also rocketing him into Brownlow Medal contention.

After signing a new two-year contract with Essendon this week, Parish said it is "crazy" to think he now sits alongside some of the game's most prolific midfielders.

"I'm pretty proud of where I've taken my footy this year and I still know there's a lot of growth left in me and the group," Parish said.

"I can be a much better player than I am now with my execution and decisions off the ball.

"I'm just continuing to grow and be the best player I can for this club.

"It's obviously nice to get some accolades and some notice from the public but I just want to keep winning games and putting my best foot forward."

Drafted by Essendon as a midfielder with pick No.5 in the 2015 national draft, Parish spent plenty of time in the forward line during his first five seasons under then-coach John Worsfold.

"Maybe a little bit of frustration, but for my development and growth into the player I am now, all them weeks and them months playing in the forward line and different areas of the ground has helped me become the player I am today," Parish said.

"Looking back on it, I'm very grateful to have played them roles and learn them positions and it's all coming into my games now."

Parish said he had worked hard on his consistency, fitness base and running patterns off the ball to improve his overall performance in recent years.

He also said clarity offered by Worsfold's successor Ben Rutten had been important in his coming-of-age season.

"I know where I stand with Truck (Rutten) and my performances and think the number one thing as a player and coach is being honest and giving honest feedback," Parish said.

"You can go to (Rutten) about anything that's troubling you ... he's built the relationships amongst the group and we all feel very comfortable and calm around him."

Parish said he has been buoyed by the direction of the club under Rutten this season.

His new contract ties him to Essendon until the end of 2023, when he will become a restricted free agent.

The Bombers (6-9) are hanging in the finals race despite successive defeats to Geelong and Melbourne, and will start favourites against Adelaide at Marvel Stadium on Friday night.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting