Essendon newcomer Darcy Parish has put banned teammates Jobe Watson and Dyson Heppell on speed dial to help with his blossoming AFL career.
Parish won this week’s Rising Star award after he was high among the best players on Saturday as the Bombers had a memorable upset win over Melbourne.
Two games into his senior career, the midfielder is showing immediately why Essendon used the No.5 pick in the national draft last November to recruit him.
But Parish’s career has started in unprecedented circumstances, with the Bombers losing Watson, Heppell and 10 other players to doping suspensions as a result of the club’s supplements debacle.
There were fears the makeshift Essendon side might not win a game this year.
Watson and Heppell, Essendon’s two best midfielders, can have no formal role at the club during their ban.
But that does not stop them from talking to teammates and Parish is making good use of their counsel.
“They’ve been a great for tips and advice after games,” Parish told the AFL website.
“They’re only a phone call away if I’ve got any questions.”
Arguably the most significant feature of Saturday’s win was that Parish, Zach Merrett and Joe Daniher – all younger Essendon players – played key roles.
In his 50th senior game, Daniher was best afield with 15 marks.
While his goalkicking was terrible – 2.4 with two more out on the full – Daniher earned praise from teammates because he never stopped presenting with leads.
Like Parish, he also kicked a crucial goal in the last term.
North Melbourne great Wayne Carey, one of the greatest key forwards in the game’s history, said Daniher’s game against Melbourne was brilliant.
“I can’t remember any of the centre half-forwards I’ve watched over the last 20 or so years who at 22 have dominated as much as this particular game,” he told Channel Seven’s Talking Footy.
And Carey also is not too worried about Daniher’s sprayed shots, noting they were all hooked kicks.
“In golfing terms, if you’re hooking it and slicing it, you have real problems,” Carey said.
“He’s doing the same thing every kick.
“It’s not that hard, it’s just all about his ball drop.”