Recruit Jake Stringer is poised to be more than just a pinch-hitting midfielder for his new club Essendon this year.
Stringer’s Bombers teammate Michael Hurley told reporters on Friday the ex-Western Bulldog had completed most of his pre-season with the midfield group as his transition to big-bodied onballer continues.
Coach John Worsfold has previously discussed the potential of the 2015 All Australian forward splitting his time between the midfield and attack if his fitness levels improved.
Stringer, who cut short an overseas holiday last year to make an early impression at Essendon, has privately set a goal of emulating Brownlow medallist Dustin Martin’s impact in dual roles.
“He’s done the majority of his pre-season with the midfield group, which has been great,” Hurley said of Stringer.
“He’s really explosive, his power around the ball and his strength and just his size will help us.
“Some of the midfielders are on the smaller side, so to throw that big body in there will be great.”
The offshoot of Stringer’s looming positional timeshare is that star swingman Cale Hooker looks certain to remain up forward alongside Coleman Medal contender Joe Daniher.
Hurley does not expect to have Hooker’s support down back, meaning Michael Hartley, Patrick Ambrose, Mitch Brown and possibly Jordan Ridley will be the other tall options.
The dual All Australian seems most excited about the recruitment of former Gold Coast speedster Adam Saad, who will add a new dimension to the Bombers’ half-back line.
Hurley himself has recovered from hip and wrist surgery, which restricted him to straight-line running before Christmas, and has rejoined the main training group.
“(I did) a lot of running pre-Christmas – I got the loads in with that – but it was more so the change of direction and the contact that I was missing out on,” he said.
“I’m ramping that up at the moment, so hopefully that builds up in the next month.”
Hurley and Essendon work closely with Challenge chief executive David Rogers, a partnership that includes the annual Clash for Cancer game, which will be held for the 13th time in 2018.
The Bombers presented Rogers with $4400 from last year’s Clash for Cancer jumper auction.
But the relationship goes deeper than money, with Hurley and his teammates also spending time with cancer-stricken children.
“I’ve had a relationship with Michael for quite a while now and he’s been to hospital numerous times and spent a lot of time with kids,” Rogers said.
“I think people take for granted that football players should be able to do that.
“It’s a skill, and we’re very fortunate to have a lot of the Essendon players who are learning how to do that and very well.”
Source: Essendon FC’s website