IT IS a case of less is more for Essendon midfielder Zach Merrett, who says he has made adjustments to his game this season for a greater impact with the ball.
Merrett, like most at the Bombers, had a slow start to this season on the back of his All Australian year in 2017.
The 22-year-old averaged 30 disposals last season and surpassed the 30-disposal barrier in 12 games. This year Merrett has managed that feat only four times in 14 games, including his 32-disposal and one-goal performance against North Melbourne in last week's win.
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But Merrett, who was the target of some close 'run-with' roles earlier in the season, said he had measured his form in other ways and that his effort against the Roos wasn't his best of the year.
"I've been building and influencing games more so than just getting possessions this year, which has been a big shift and something I've been focusing on as a leader of the club," he said on Thursday.
"[My] numbers [against North] might've looked better than other games but I don't think it was the standout game overall."
Merrett won the Bombers' best and fairest in 2016 and has become one of their key players despite only being five seasons into his career. He is also the club's vice-captain.
He is renowned for his driven approach to football, and believed he wasn't getting enough of the ball in dangerous parts of the ground last season.
"I think I was probably getting a lot of possessions in the back half which, although it set our play up a little bit, I probably was a bit out of play when the ball went forward," he said.
"I've tried to adjust that a little bit and obviously I've played on some really good players at the start of the year that taught me a lot of things."
Essendon's clash on Sunday with Collingwood at the MCG stands as an important one if the Bombers are to continue their late dash to the finals.
They have won five of their past six games and the Magpies are on a seven-game winning streak.
Essendon blitzed past the Roos last week to boot a season-high 19 goals, while the Magpies have also shown their scoring power in recent weeks.
Merrett said it was hard to know whether the scoring frenzy would continue.
"They play a really quick brand of footy and have a lot of possessions, and we're probably pretty similar, but it's pretty hard to predict how the game's going to pan out," he said.
"The 'G is a bit bigger than Etihad [Stadium] so I doubt both teams will be able to run as much as we did on Sunday against North Melbourne, but it would be nice for the fans to see a bit of a shootout and lots of goals."