ESSENDON has secured another important member of its future with youngster Darcy Parish signing a two-year contract extension.
Having recently signed star forward Joe Daniher to a three-year deal, the Bombers shifted their attention to locking in Parish beyond his initial two-year contract, which was set to expire at the end of this season.
As revealed earlier on AFL.com.au, the Dons were quick to inform rival teams of their agreement with Parish which will make him a Bomber until at least the end of 2019, and the club subsequently announced the re-signing on its website.
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"I’m really excited about our future and proud to sign on for two more years," Parish said upon re-signing.
"We’ve got a great group of players, with a solid mix of youth and experience, and while we know we have a lot of hard work ahead of us, I really feel like we’re heading in the right direction."
Coach John Worsfold said he was thrilled that Parish had re-committed to the Bombers.
"He’s part of an exciting young group of players who are not only fully invested, but really driving our culture and elite standards," he said.
Parish played perhaps his best game in Essendon colours last weekend in the Bombers' win over Collingwood, gathering 28 disposals.
The No.5 pick at the 2015 NAB AFL Draft played 20 games for the Bombers in his debut season last year, holding down a nearly permanent midfield role and averaging 21 disposals. He finished fourth overall in the Rising Star award.
He has played a different role in his second year with the return of most of Essendon's first-choice midfield from suspension, with Parish being used across half-forward and the wing.
Worsfold said last Saturday that the Bombers would continue to give Parish bursts in the midfield and develop him as a forward as well.
"He's still growing and it's about what's best for the team at the moment. Part of what's best for the team is to develop the younger players, but Darcy is getting his fair share through there," Worsfold said after the Magpies win.
"It's a good rotation. Some weeks he'll get more time and other weeks he'll play a little more at half-forward."
Parish's commitment means Essendon's biggest priority as it edges towards the off-season will be re-signing restricted free agent David Zaharakis, who is in a brilliant run of form after gathering a season-high 38 touches last week.
Decisions also need to be made on a number of senior players who fall out of contract at the end of this year, among them former skipper Jobe Watson, ex-Cat James Kelly, veteran midfielder Brent Stanton, and Heath Hocking and Ben Howlett.
Brendon Goddard's one-year deal also ends at the close of this year but the midfielder has a games trigger clause for another season in his contract which he is set to reach in the next fortnight.
Mark Baguley, Conor McKenna, Mitch Brown and Jackson Merrett are among the other unsigned Bombers for 2018.