Midfield maestros Zach Merrett and Darcy Parish have claimed one of the League’s most prestigious individual honours with their selection in the 2021 Therabody All Australian Team.

The ball magnets become the Bombers’ first All Australians since 2017 and 35th and 36th selections in the AFL era, with Parish collecting his first blazer and Merrett his second.

Parish has taken almost all before him in his elevation to an elite midfielder this season, winning the Anzac Medal, Yiooken Award and Tom Wills Medal as best afield in the Bombers' feature matches.

He finished the home and away season as the No.1 player in the League for centre clearances, averaging 30 disposals and setting a club record for disposals (44) in the Bombers’ Dreamtime in Perth blockbuster against Richmond.

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The 24-year-old, who recently re-signed until at least the end of 2023, said his maiden All-Australian selection was another reward for his hard work.

“It’s (All Australian) pretty crazy. To receive this jacket is a huge honour. I’m really proud of how I’ve attacked this year, the growth in my footy and just me as a person as well. It’s come a long way and helped me to play my best footy,” Parish said.

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Maiden All-Australian | Parish on 'huge honour'

Darcy Parish speaks about his maiden All-Australian selection on the back of a breakout 2021 season.

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“It’s (breakout season) been building. Obviously you have another pre-season under your belt, more time and more knowledge about the game, but this year has been about bringing it all together and being a consistent performer for this club.

“I’ve been thankful to be out there most weeks, work on my craft and just learn new things along the way. To put it all out there on game day consistently has been the big thing for me. A lot of clarity at the start of the year in knowing what ‘Truck’ (senior coach Ben Rutten) has expected of me has really held me in good stead.”

Darcy Parish with his first All-Australian blazer. (Photo: Essendon FC)

The ultra-consistent Merrett has continued on his merry way in 2021, ranking inside the League’s top 10 for disposals, effective disposals, inside 50s and goal assists.

He’s formed a lethal partnership with Parish, with the duo combining for 1360 disposals - 28 short of the all-time record for combined disposals for two players at one club in a single season (set by Adelaide pair Matt Crouch and Rory Laird in 2017).

While Merrett said he was honoured to again sit alongside the competition’s elite, the joint vice-captain’s 2021 mission wasn’t done yet.

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Merrett's motto

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“You spend so much energy and time trying to help the team win and to get some individual recognition is nice, but first and foremost I’m just pumped to be playing finals,” Merrett said.

“I’m very grateful though. It’s very humbling to be selected against some amazing players who I look up to around the League, but ultimately my focus is solely on finals footy.”

Zach Merrett with his second All-Australian blazer. (Photo: Essendon FC)

The 25-year-old said he owed a lot to senior coach Ben Rutten, midfield coach Blake Caracella and his teammates for allowing him to shine.

“At the start of the year, ‘Truck’ (Rutten) and ‘Cara’ (Caracella) were great at identifying my strengths and the strengths of my teammates, allowing myself and those around me to flourish and have confidence to play to our strengths,” Merrett said.

03:46 Mins
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Dual All-Australian | Merrett 'very humbled'

Zach Merrett speaks about his second All-Australian selection and what helped him achieve it.

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“I’ve been given a great role that allows me to show my flair, but I’ve been supported with great teammates around me that also allow me to do that. It’s been building, but to have the team rolling together allows me to play a more important and better role.”

Merrett and Parish will look to carry their scintillating form into finals when the Bombers face the Bulldogs in a cut-throat elimination final at UTAS Stadium on Sunday.