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'Match-changer' impresses

Adam Curley, AFL Media  February 5, 2018 11:18 AM

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"He's a real match-changer and it's great to have the type of player who can potentially replace Job Watson"

Essendon recruit Jake Stringer is "dominating" stoppage work at his new club and looks set to spend more time in the midfield this season.

Stringer kicked 160 goals from 89 games over five seasons with the Western Bulldogs playing as a permanent forward, but at times showed glimpses of his ability as an onballer.  

The 23-year-old was traded to the Bombers last year after the Dogs lost patience with the brilliant yet inconsistent goalkicker but Zaharakis says Stringer is already exciting his new teammates.  

His arrival at the Bombers comes at an ideal time after the retirement of veteran Jobe Watson.  

Possessing a perfect combination of size and raw power, Stringer has always looked to have the potential to be an outstanding midfielder.

Zaharakis told RSN radio that the 2015 All Australian is ready to have an big impact up the ground in 2018 after working on his fitness over the pre-season.

"There's very few players in the AFL who can explode from a pack by breaking a tackle or fending off like Dusty Martin or Patrick Dangerfield, and Jake has got that quality," he said.  

"He's a real match-changer and it's great to have the type of player who can potentially replace Job Watson, who has been such a stoppage bull in there for us.  

"He's been winning stoppages on a consistent basis at training and almost every stoppage Jake will come out with the ball and we haven't really had anyone dominating training like that.  

"It's great to watch and he's excited to get off the leash in the midfield. It's really impressive."  

Zaharakis said the fact that Stringer cut short his off-season trip to return to Melbourne to prepare for his new start at Essendon made a "great impression" on his the club.  

Stringer is still expected to spend time inside 50 for the Bombers but could split his time equally between that and running through the midfield, with fellow recruit and former Greater Western Sydney forward Devon Smith expected to fill a similar role.