Essendon’s Zach Merrett has been nominated for the AFL’s Rising Star award after playing a leading role in his side’s 50-point win over Richmond.
The Cobden recruit had 22 disposals and kicked two fourth-quarter goals in the Dreamtime at the ’G match on Saturday night.
“We took a gamble and played him in round one and we’ve been really impressed with the way he attacks the football and takes the game on,” Bombers coach Mark Thompson said.
“His brother Jackson is also at the club and they are two very competitive individuals.”
The AFL website reported Merrett followed in the footsteps of his idol Dyson Heppell with the nomination.
“I was pretty nervous before the game with 80,000 people and Dreamtime,” Merrett told AFL.com.au yesterday.
“But it was good to get a few touches and to kick a few goals at the end was nice to finish off.
“To be Rising Star this round is just extra special.”
Merrett helped carve up the toothless Tigers with his piercing left foot, using the ball at better than 86 per cent efficiency.
It’s a trait he shares with his mentor Heppell, who won the AFL Rising Star award in 2011.
“I’ve leaned on Dyson Heppell a fair bit. He’s helped me a lot with vision and just pointing me in the right direction,” Merrett said.
“Then my brother’s (Jackson) been really handy. There’s just a lot of questions I ask him at home, it’s really good.
“I’d only played one game with him before this year, so it’s a bit different. It just felt like in the locker rooms at training it was just at home at our local footy club (in Cobden).
“It was pretty surreal at the start but now it’s just getting on with the job.”