Young gun Darcy Parish says it was “super” to have young defender Aaron Francis back alongside him in Essendon’s outstanding 43-point victory over Sydney on Friday.
Francis returned to the side for his first senior game since round seven last year and didn’t miss a beat with an impressive and composed 14-disposal performance.
Parish is no stranger to having Francis by his side after the Bombers were drafted with picks five and six respectively in the 2015 National Draft.
While the midfielder has gone on to crack his 50-game milestone as a regular contributor to the team, Francis’ career has been repeatedly interrupted to date.
But since returning from leave to deal with a mental health issue earlier this year, the intercepting defender hasn’t missed a beat, dominating his opponents at VFL level to well and truly earn his spot back in the side.
For Parish and his fellow Bombers, having a happy Francis back is all that matters.
“It brought everyone a smile to their face having Franga back out there today,” Parish said post-game.
“He’s a super talent and has obviously battled a few things throughout the year, but he’s flying at the minute.
“He’s laughing and carrying on around the change rooms, which is great to see.”
Parish said Francis – who requested a trade to his home state of South Australia at the end of last season – appears to be back enjoying his time at the club and can now have the chance to string some senior games together.
“(He has) positive vibes around the place, which is really good,” he said.
“He was playing some great footy in the VFL and to play great footy tonight as well in the team, he’s really cemented his spot.”
Parish was brilliant against the Swans on Friday, continuing his impressive return to football following a nasty thumb injury suffered in round eight.
The on-baller gathered 26 disposals and booted a goal, doing plenty of work at the coalface with 13 contested possessions, and he credits his running training during his time out of the side with what he admitted is career-best form.
“Throughout the injury I got to do a lot of running and fitness-based stuff, which has held me in good stead now I think and (I’m) running out games a lot better than I was,” Parish said.
“(My) confidence is growing each week I think. (I’m) playing my role for the team as everyone else is, so it’s great to be back in and winning games.”
Parish is just one part of an extremely versatile midfield group, which has seen the Bombers run out games particularly well against their more one-dimensional opponents in recent weeks.
“We’ve got so many blokes that can flick through there now and play their role for the team,” he said.
“We’re pretty unique in that way – where other teams are reliant on two or three mids to go all night through there, we’ve got about eight guys who can run through there.
“You can really tell we run over teams in the end in the midfield and it’s great to have everyone playing their role in there.”
With the season still alive, Parish is hopeful the Bombers can continue their rich vein of form.
“We’re just looking at week to week just bringing that real intent and pressure around the footy.
“Obviously (we are) playing some pretty good footy now and finding some good form and everyone (is) playing their role for the team, which is great, so hopefully we can keep it up.”