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Stringer to play multiple roles

Callum Twomey, AFL Media  December 4, 2017 10:03 AM

BTV: Pre-season update Matt Thompson from AFL.com.au catches up with Performance Coach, Hayden Skipworth.

Essendon hopes star recruit Jake Stringer can spend half of his game time in the midfield next year to offer the Bombers a big-bodied presence around the ball.

The Western Bulldogs premiership forward crossed to the Bombers during October's NAB AFL Trade Period after a difficult season that saw him kick just 24 goals from 16 games and also deal with personal issues in the public. 

He has already begun his time at Essendon in good fashion, however, cutting short an overseas trip to return to training and has also trimmed down for his first pre-season at the club.

Stringer kicked 56 goals in 2015 when he was named an All Australian, and then booted 42 majors in the Dogs' premiership season the following year.

But Essendon coach John Worsfold is keen to utilise the match-winner up the ground as well.

"Stringer will go through there and we believe he'll play good midfield football without maybe being a full-time midfielder," Worsfold said this week.

"If he got an injury and couldn't train all through January then that will change our view on how we use him, but we believe if we get the pre-season into him he'll be able to play up there for potentially 50 per cent of his game time, which will be maybe 50 minutes [a week]."

The Bombers met with Stringer several times before they landed the exciting 23-year-old, doing their homework on the off-field issues that troubled him throughout his 2017 campaign. 

Worsfold said the club would work closely with Stringer to develop a plan so that all areas of his life are organised.

"We want him playing his best footy, but we also understand players play their best footy then they're settled outside. That's happened and he's mad some decisions," he said.

"Now, what are we putting in place for him to be able to have a happy family life with his kids and play really good footy, and develop himself as a person beyond just playing footy. That's what we're focusing on."

Stringer was one of three players the Bombers brought into the club, alongside former Greater Western Sydney forward Devon Smith and ex-Gold Coast defender Adam Saad.

The Bombers didn't lose any players as part of the three trades, but did lose their first pick at the NAB AFL Draft (No.11 overall) as part of the Smith deal to get things moving.

Worsfold said the club knew it was time to be more active in the trade space as it attempts to push up the ladder.

"It took a group effort, as in our list management committee, to say we are in this phase. We're specifically looking to boost our group and these players are available," he said.

"You don't just give up your first-round pick for the sake of it. You have to be really strategic around where everything was heading. It still hurt (list manager) Adrian [Dodoro] to give up the first pick. He thought 'I could bring in those three and probably others as well without giving up [the first-round] pick'.

"But we knew that was not going to happen. And we had to work out the best way to use our first couple of picks to maximise what we were going to get in."