Darcy Parish has praised first-year head coach Ben Rutten after signing a two-year extension with the club, which sees him in the red and black until he becomes a restricted free agent in 2023.
The midfielder has been a man possessed since his permanent shift into the midfield in round three this season.
He sits in the top five in the AFL for disposals, contested possessions, and ground ball gets, is first in centre clearances and second in overall clearances, and sits second in total goal assists and third for score involvements.
It has been a rise that has amazed the football world, and he is well and truly in the Brownlow conversation. His name comfortably sits alongside those of Bontempelli and Petracca as the elite midfielders of the game in 2021.
Such an ascent to stardom saw his signature become Essendon’s most important to attain after Zach Merrett committed for six years. On Tuesday, the club got it.
Speaking to the media on Wednesday afternoon, Darcy Parish was quick to praise ‘Truck’ for the direction the club is heading.
“I’m loving the direction, and I guess the growth and excitement we’re bringing to our footy,” he said.
“That was probably the main thing, just the direction Truck’s taken us as a club, and just the players around me; they’ve made it pretty easy as well.
“[I’m] really enjoying my time here and excited for the next couple of years here.”
After a dismal end to 2020 had few pundits predicting a better season than their 13th-placed finish, the Bombers have maintained their finals chances with a young group.
“He’s been massive since he’s fully taken over.
“He’s a great people person, and he’s really built those relationships with everyone in our group, he treats everyone equally which is really important to me and I think he’s really clear, and gives you great clarity on where you’re at and the position we are.
“It’s been awesome with Truck and his standards and expectations amongst the group and everyone’s buying in and really enjoying his leadership and him as a coach. So yeah, can’t question Truck and hopefully we just continue to grow under him.”
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Parish elaborated on his personal relationship with the first-year head coach. Extra midfield minutes has meant it’s been smooth sailing between the pair.
“I know where I stand with Truck, and my performances and that sort of thing and I think thats the number one thing as a player and coach, if you can be honest and give them honest feedback and words and you can just go to him with anyone that’s troubling you and that sort of thing.
“He’s built the relationships amongst the group and we all feel very comfortable and calm around him.
“Our culture once Truck’s taken over, we’re all just [a] real strong, collective group, and it’s just an enjoyable place to be at the moment.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys coming through and it’s just exciting.
“There are a lot of blokes my age now that are sort of taking and striving this club in the direction we want and that’s exciting for me and for everyone supporting us.
“I think our attitude and our effort on gameday as well, you can’t fault it. We’re just rocking up and having a real crack. Now it’s just about executing our system and I guess our structure as well, and hopefully we can get a few more wins.”
Parish spent the majority of his first five years up forward for the Dons since being drafted with pick five in the 2015 draft.
He was a ball-winning midfielder for the Geelong Falcons and Vic Country, but was forced to earn his midfield minutes until Jye Caldwell and Dylan Shiel went down with injuries in round two.
“[There was] maybe a little bit of frustration, but I think for my development and growth and the player I am now, I think all those weeks and those months playing in the forward line, I guess different areas of the ground has helped me become the player I am today,” he told the media.
“I’m pretty thankful to just keep learning my roles and keep growing my game in certain areas, I think that’s been a big factor of learning forward craft, mid craft and being able to play multiple roles.
“Looking back on it, I’m very grateful to have played those roles and learn those positions and it’s all coming into the games now.”
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