COBDEN brothers Jackson and Zach Merrett will play football together for the first time in years when Essendon meets the Gold Coast tonight.
Bombers selectors have named Zach, 18, to make his debut alongside his elder sibling Jackson, 20, in the AFL pre-season clash on the Gold Coast .
The match marks the first time the brothers have played together since they ran out for Cobden in an under 14 match more than half a decade ago.
Back at Cobden, proud parents Greg and Cathy Merrett will watch the match from home as their boys’ football dreams collide 1900 kilometres away.
Jackson has played 14 AFL matches, including an Anzac Day blockbuster, since being drafted from Geelong Falcons with pick 31 in the 2011 national draft.
Zach is in his first season at Windy Hill. He landed at the club courtesy of pick 26 in the 2013 national draft, via Sandringham Dragons.
Cathy said the occasion was “exciting”. She spoke to her sons on Saturday night ahead of a training session and flight north yesterday.
“I think they’ve helped each other. Jackson has certainly given Zach a few tips. They’ve been good for each other,” she said.
Essendon assistant coach Simon Goodwin said the match could be the start of something big for Essendon, which has a history of playing brothers.
The most famous example is the Daniher brothers Terry, Neale, Chris and Anthony, whose son Joe is currently on the Bombers’ list.
“They’re similar in a lot of ways but very different in some as well,” Goodwin said.
‘‘It’s exciting for the footy club.
“The club has a proud history of brothers playing together. To have the two Merrett boys playing is a special moment for the football club.
“They’re both really quick and both really good decisionmakers. They both love the competitive element of the game and the combativeness of it.
“We’re excited for both of them.
“Jackson is a little further developed than Zach but Zach is an extremely good talent who we expect to have a big future with the footy club.”
Goodwin said the Bombers’ coaching staff could tell the brothers had grown up “being extremely competitive against one another”.
“I’m sure they’ll look after one another on the ground but they’re both very competitive individuals.”
The Bombers-Suns match is the sixth of 18 pre-season clashes running until March 1.
The season starts on March 14 with Collingwood playing Fremantle. Essendon meets North Melbourne first up on March 21.