Familiar names have dominated the Brownlow Medal market in AFL season 2021, including Bontempelli, Petracca and Martin. But one player has bolted into contention from nowhere.

As the 2021 AFL season was about to kick off, Essendon’s Darcy Parish was a name on few lips. The half-forward had spent more and more time in the midfield during the back-end of 2020, but was hardly considered a player who could dominate proceedings. Parish was well behind Zac Merrett, Dylan Shiel, Andrew McGrath and and new recruit Jye Caldwell in the midfield pecking order at the Bombers.

But things have gone his way in 2021. First it involved luck, with injuries to Shiel and Caldwell. But then it was his skill and hard work that came to the fore. And now, he’s arguably at the front of that pack. Parish started the year as a very distant $501 Brownlow Medal hope with Palmerbet. After a dominant first-half of the AFL season, however, that has seen him win two prominent medals (Anzac Medal and Yiooken Award), Parish has incredibly come into $7.50 with Palmerbet.

Record-breaking numbers

Until Saturday night’s Dreamtime clash in the West, no Essendon player had ever surpassed 43 disposals in one match. That it would come from Parish, who has spent less than a season as a full-time midfielder, is nothing short of remarkable. In his last seven AFL Games, he has averaged a whopping 36.9 touches. For those following at home, that is games of: 44, 36, 36, 39, 35, 26 and 42.

While surprised by his rapid rise, coach Ben Rutten knew what Parish was capable of. “It was a conversation we probably had during the pre-season. I probably felt there was 30 per cent growth in him, in his game,” he said recently. For those who cottoned on early, he has delivered huge value for punters in the individual disposal markets. On the futures front, another indication of his rapid rise is this: After Round 4, Parish was a $26 hope to finish inside the Brownlow Top 10 with Palmerbet.

Now, he’s into $1.30.

Fellow Don’s rise

Parish isn’t the only Bomber to come screeching into contention in an individual market. Teammate Nik Cox, the number eight pick in the 2020 AFL Draft, was finally nominated for this season’s Rising Star award after a string of impressive performances. Cox started the year as a $51 hope with Palmerbet. But since his nomination against the Tigers in Round 12, he is now the outright favourite at $3.00, just ahead of the Giants’ Tom Green at $3.25.

(*Prices correct at 2pm Wednesday June 9)

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