Stringer on the outer
If you had asked the Doggies last season whether they would consider trading premiership star Jake Stringer, the answer would have been a resounding no. The young superstar had claimed his first premiership medal, and was touted as part of the generation of players who would potentially add a few more to their tally. In 2016, Stringer had a stellar season, kicking 42 goals and averaging 14 disposals a game. What was notable in addition to his goalkicking was the number of contested possessions he was winning, thereby providing some X-factor around the ground.
Fast forward to 2017, and Stringer was suddenly on the outer. He played 16 games for the season, and was barely visible on the field after a decent start to the season. Of course, the problems that have come to light recently weren’t public knowledge back then, and many questioned his value in the team.
Beginning of the end
At the end of the 2017 season, Luke Beveridge came out and said that Stringer was on the trade table for the right deal. This immediately sparked interest, with Essendon and Geelong being considered frontrunners. Stringer seemed surprised at the fact that his name was on the trade list, and then it unravelled. Details emerged on exactly why Stringer was facing the cold shoulder from the Bulldogs. The purpose of this article is not to recap those issues, rather look at why where things as they stand are not a good scenario for either the player or the club.
Bulldogs need to budge to make the trade happen
When you publicly announce that a player like Stringer is not part of your future plans, you immediately lose bargaining power on the trade table. Immaterial of the fact that Stringer was picked at number 5 in 2012, and although he has kicked 160 goals for the club, the Bulldogs showed their hand and conceded their advantage by making this announcement. This in itself is ok, considering the situation, and assuming that things had become untenable at this point for Stringer. But to then demand top picks for a player considered excess to their needs is foolhardy, and indeed delusional. Yet, this is exactly what they did by demanding pick 11 from Essendon, who smartly used it on Devon Smith instead. The demands also drove Geelong away, and it looks unlikely that they will give up their newly awarded pick 19 to lure Stringer to Kardinia Park. The Doggies then did an about-face and made it known that in the absence of a suitable trade, Stringer would remain with them.
Essendon seem to have tabled an offer in which they would part with picks 25 and 30 to get their man. Considering they have also landed Adam Saad, don’t expect the Bombers to concede further ground. Given the circumstances, this offer seems reasonable. It would be remiss of the Bulldogs management to knock this back and play hardball as the trade deadline looms.
You cannot have your cake and eat it too
As it stands, it is almost a guarantee that Stringer would not thrive if he remained at the Bulldogs. The player is clearly shaken, and the club have not helped his cause with their haphazard trading approach. Stringer knows that the Doggies want him gone, and for this reason, it would be against all common sense to try to retain him. Why would you want someone on your list when their heart is not in it? On all levels, bridges seem to have been burnt, and retaining him will not be good for the morale and culture.
Picks 25 and 30 may not get them another Stringer, but it will get them two young players who are willing to be there and give it 100%. Alternately, it will give them reasonable currency on the trade table to upgrade to a higher pick, or lure a decent player. As a coach, and as an ex-footballer, surely Beveridge knows that drive and willingness will always beat talent? If Stringer remains at the kennel in 2018, there will be no winners from the scenario. It is something the Doggies should work hard to avoid.
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