Whoa!! Stop the presses guys. Club reckons Stringer is training well and will play in the midfield!!!
Jake Stringer emerges as Jobe Watson’s replacement in Essendon’s midfield
ESSENDON “beast” Jake Stringer has emerged as a potential replacement for retired champion Jobe Watson in the Bombers’ engineroom.
Stringer, 23, sat out a large chunk of Friday’s intra-club at Tullamarine as a precaution after being “stomped on”, but assistant coach Hayden Skipworth said the former Bulldog remains on track to play majority midfield in 2018.
The Bombers have closely monitored Stringer throughout the pre-season, keen for the 2015 All-Australian and premiership star to fill a void left by retired duo Watson and Brent Stanton.
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“He’s going to get his tank well enough to spend 70 per cent in the midfield and 30 per cent forward,” Skipworth said.
“At the moment, he’s probably more 50-50 (but) what he’s shown around the ball — it’s been super.
“He’s been a clearance beast … he’s one of those guys that can win a clearance and turn a contested situation into uncontested situation with his speed and power.”
Jake Stringer fends off David Zaharakis.
Stringer typically played at about 92 kilograms, but Skipworth revealed the explosive big-bodied goalkicker now weighed in at 95-96 kilograms.
“He’s picked up the stoppage craft really quickly, he lives in the contest, and he’s a big brute in there,” Skipworth said.
“He’s really hard to move for smaller mids, we see him play a lot inside and probably deeper forward when he goes forward.”
The Bombers were in full voice at Tullamarine, with Dyson Heppell, Zach Merrett, David Zaharakis and Brendon Goddard barking orders throughout the hotly-contested session, which finished with tailored AFLX match simulation.
Cale Hooker dominated up forward with Joe Daniher, providing strong marking targets, while Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti and Orazio Fantasia appeared to have licences to roam.
Essendon recruits Adam Saad and Devon Smith provided a spark off their respective flanks and through the midfield.
Andy McGrath chased by Darcy Parish. Picture: Jay Town
Dylan Clarke tackled by Orazio Fantasia. Picture: Jay Town
Zaharakis likes the new-look midfield approach, highlighting premiership teams Richmond and the Western Bulldogs as the benchmark for depth and versatility.
“We’ve got a lot of players that can play different positions, whether it be half-forward, half-back, wing and midfield,” Zaharakis said.
“They (Tigers and Bulldogs) rotate a lot of players through the midfield, you might have one or two that’s constant in there, but a lot of other players go through there.
“We need the development of Kyle Langford and Jayden Laverde, as well, to be able to play through there.
“They’ve been good on the track around stoppages over the last couple of months so the improvement of them as well as getting recruits in will be good.”