Worsfold defends Stringer over fitness questions

Essendon coach John Worsfold has defended star forward Jake Stringer’s body shape, after commentators questioned him for looking “big” in his side’s Round 5 win.

Stringer was one of Essendon’s best players in the win over Collingwood, finishing with three goals before suffering a syndesmosis injury in the dying stages of the match.

However, at one stage in the second quarter, Channel Seven commentators Bruce McAvaney and Brian Taylor raised questions about whether the forward was in shape.

“Are we being harsh by saying that? I mean, he’s done everything right, but he does look big doesn’t he?” McAvaney asked Taylor.

“Look, I personally think, Bruce, he needs to train with the group,” Taylor replied.

Jake Stringer has been one of Essendon’s most consistent players in the early part of the season (Getty)

“I know other players have done it, but he needs a little bit more coaching than perhaps others. He definitely doesn’t have the six-pack going at the moment.”

Worsfold hit back at the comments, saying that the club did not have a problem with Stringer’s body shape, pointing to his brilliant on-field form so far this season.

“I don’t have an issue with his body shape,” he told Nine’s Footy Classified.

“We’re all built differently. We’ve got some little fellas running around, we’ve got our big guys, we’ve always celebrated that the game of AFL allows for all sizes and shapes to play a role in our game.

“Jake has got a role to play within our club and within the team and he’s been performing that role really well for us so far this year.

“We’re so disappointed with his injury on the weekend. Our absolute focus with Jake is for him to recover from his surgery and be available ready to play with the team again as soon as possible.

Stringer hobbles off the field with an Essendon trainer after injuring his ankle against Collingwood (Getty)

“He has a different body shape which I think we should celebrate. We’ll assess him on his output and performance for the team.

“I would like to add that he had an outstanding pre-season. He worked extremely hard and we all got affected through a massive downtime layoff with the COVID strike, but other than that, Jake has worked extremely hard to get himself in best nick to play well for us.”

Stringer is one of just five Essendon players to not travel with the team to its Gold Coast base for the immediate future, joining the long-term injury list.

The 26-year-old could miss up to three months due to the nasty ankle injury, leaving a major hole in Essendon’s forward line, with star forward Joe Daniher still sidelined.

While Daniher is yet to play a match in 2020, he was a part of Essendon’s travelling party to the Gold Coast, with the club hopeful of him resuming full training over the next few weeks.

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