Essendon Football Club is pleased to announce, Jackson Merrett, Jake Long and Shaun McKernan will Don the Sash in 2018, with the trio committing to the Club for a further year.
Merrett remains on the senior list, Long has been elevated to the senior list, while McKernan remains on the rookie list.
Merrett, recruited in 2012, has played 54 games for the Bombers over his six year career.
Senior Coach, John Worsfold, said the 24 year old has proven he has the ability to play at the top level.
“Jackson has already shown he can play a good level of AFL and he has been working on parts of his game to make him a more consistent performer. We have seen that coming through,” Worsfold said.
“Even though he didn’t get any opportunities in 2017, we think he will add value if he breaks into our team.
“Jackson’s attitude is great, he works really hard and stays really positive, even during the tough times he faced in 2017 making him a respected player at the Club.”
Long played three senior matches in 2016 and averaged 15 disposals, four marks and three tackles across his 15 games in the VFL in 2017.
“Jake has shown a lot of promise in the way he plays. He is mainly on the wing but we think he can play half-back as well,” Worsfold said.
“He has good speed, good ability to break the lines and deliver the ball going forward.
“He continues to grow as a footballer and we think his best footy is ahead.
“Obviously upgrading Jake isn’t a light decision but we see the upside in what he can bring and we think he has learnt a lot about what it takes to be an AFL footballer and he is ready to grab that spot on the senior list.”
Although McKernan will remain on the rookie list in 2018, under new rules next season, Category A Rookies will now be eligible to play in the senior side without needing to be upgraded on to the senior list.
McKernan played 34 games for Adelaide before joining Essendon in 2015. He has played 18 games in the red and black, in his three seasons with the Club.
“Shaun gives us good depth as another ruckman, a mature-aged ruckman, while we have two developing young ruckman in Sam Draper and Luke Lavender,” Worsfold said.
“He has the flexibility to play as a key forward for us, if required as well.
“He is a player that works really hard, has a great attitude, great work ethic and fits in really well with the values that we are living.”