Jake Stringer celebrates a goal last season. Picture: Getty Images
Jake Stringer celebrates a goal last season. Picture: Getty Images

Can Super Stringer save the Bombers?

Thank goodness Jake Stringer is "borderline flying" because he might have to put on the Superman cape.

He is shaping as rare beacon up forward for the Bombers after the club delisted Mitch Brown (21 goals from 16 games last year) and admitted Joe Daniher could miss a big chunk of the season.

 

 

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Daniher returned to running last week with pitfalls and setbacks surely ahead.

So it will leave Bombers fans asking: apart from Stringer, who the hell kicks all their goals - Shaun McKernan and James Stewart?

Last year the club kicked 100 points once in 18 rounds, and ranked 13th for points scored.

In its elimination final shocker, Essendon's attack took four inside-50 marks as West Coast grabbed 23 intercept marks.

What is the Bombers' plan? Innovate, experiment and adapt like Rodney Eade's Western Bulldogs did when they marched into successive preliminary finals.

In 2009, 15 Bulldogs kicked more than 10 goals for the season. Not one of them was a genuine key forward.

Jason Akermanis kicked 43 goals, Mitch Hahn 38, Brad Johnson 37, Josh Hill 33, Shaun Higgins 32, Lindsay Gilbee 24, Daniel Giansiracusa 21 and Scott West 20.

 

 

Jake Stringer at Essendon’s Coffs Harbour pre-season camp. Picture: Getty Images
Jake Stringer at Essendon’s Coffs Harbour pre-season camp. Picture: Getty Images

 

 

Defender Robert Murphy dubbed it "organised chaos" and it took the Dogs to within seven points of a Grand Final.

"It was the only way we could survive," former captain Johnson said.

"Essendon's ground ball players are quite dynamic and they get back Dylan Smith, who brings that elite pressure.

"All of a sudden your forward line takes shapes even without a recognised tall.

"Even if it's successful in a home-and-away season, the question is whether that structure can stand up in finals."

Johnson agrees former Bulldog Stringer had a unique opportunity to take command of a forward line.

"We have all seen what Jake can produce," he said.

"He is now at that age and level of maturity where he can be consistent week in and week out. He knows what he needs to do to be consistent."

 

 

Jake Stringer kicked 33 goals last season. Picture: Getty Images
Jake Stringer kicked 33 goals last season. Picture: Getty Images

 

 

If Essendon wants to snap a finals-winning drought dating from 2004, its brains trust must pull a rabbit out of its hat.

Few sides have as talented a batch of small to medium-sized forwards who can thrive on mismatches and ground balls if Essendon's midfield can sustain quicksilver ball movement.

Which other club has as talented a mid-sized quartet as Stringer, Orazio Fantasia, ­Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti and Devon Smith for goal sense and impact?

Fantasia is finally over knee and hip surgeries, Smith hasn't missed a beat and Stringer is brimming with confidence about his fitness after a season-high 33 goals last year.

Mitch Brown's delisting was a surprise, but the Dons felt he hurt their defensive pressure and led too far and wide for a team trying to keep the ball ­inside 50 for repeat stoppages.



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