AFL news, as it happens.
Essendon coach Ben Rutten has labelled Jake Stringer “poor” after the under-performing star’s quiet showing in the Bombers’ 150th anniversary game.
Returning for his first match in six weeks after a hamstring injury, Stringer had little impact during his nine possessions in Friday night’s 26-point defeat against Carlton.
Stringer was the breakout star of Essendon’s run to last year’s finals, but the 28-year-old has played just five games this season as he has struggled for fitness.
The Western Bulldogs premiership player was given a lucrative three-year contract on the back of his blistering form in the back-half of 2021.
When asked if Stringer simply needed to play consecutive games in a row to recapture his best, Rutten replied: “I hope so.
“He had a poor game tonight,” Rutten added.
“As a senior player for us, we need more from him.
“He would have played last week if we didn’t have the bye, so his preparation has been fine.”
The Bombers are stuck in 16th on the ladder with a 2-10 record and are in the middle of an internal review into the club’s football operations.
Star midfielder Darcy Parish is a doubt for Essendon’s clash with red-hot St Kilda next Friday night after being subbed out against the Blues with a calf issue.
The only shining light for the Bombers was the club celebrating its rich history, dating back to 1872.
Essendon’s living legends took part in significant pre-game festivities before the match, highlighted by the return of premiership captain and former coach James Hird.
It was Hird’s official comeback to the Bombers after his dramatic exit as coach in 2015, following the club’s supplements saga.
The club legends then joined arms in a circle with the Bombers’ current team to hear a stirring pre-match address from captain Dyson Heppell.
“The involvement of our past players throughout this week has been fantastic,” Rutten said.
“The overwhelming support…they understand how we’re feeling at the moment with the scoreboard not quite ticking over the way we’d all love.
“They’ve all been there in those situations throughout their careers.
“The amount of support and encouragement we’ve felt as a football club this week has been exceptional and we just love having them involved.”
The anniversary celebrations will culminate in a gala at at Melbourne Park on Saturday night.