Jake Stringer needs to give a “full commitment” to the Western Bulldogs if he wants to stay at the club next season, according to teammate Mitch Wallis.
Stringer still has a year to run on his contract at Whitten Oval but it was reported on Channel Nine’s The Footy Show on Thursday night that the premiership star is exploring a trade after falling out with the Bulldogs.
Wallis wants Stringer to stick with the Bulldogs but conceded doubt surrounded his future after agreeing there was a “disconnect” between the 2015 All-Australian forward pocket and the club this year.
“He (Stringer) is working through it, I think he wants to stay a Bulldog, they’ve given him every opportunity for the last four or five years but it’s still up in the air and he still has to really commit to the club because they want a full commitment from him and not one where he’s unsure,” Wallis told SEN on Thursday.
“He had a couple of injuries late in the year which obviously made it hard for him because he hadn’t had a great year form-wise.”
His 24 goals from 16 games in the Bulldogs’ failed premiership defence was Stringer’s lowest output since his 2013 debut season – far down from his career-best 56 majors two years ago.
“I want him to stay, obviously that’s the priority, and he’s a contracted player but I still think that they have things they have to work through,” Wallis said
“He is the package, he’s got the full package, and he can still add a lot to the club going forward.
“Time will tell, we’ve all gone our separate ways now so I think the trade period is not for another three or four weeks and there will probably be some conversations which we’re pretty well aware of to decide his future.
“If he decides to stay, he’ll stay for a long time. And if he doesn’t, well, good luck to him.
“I’m sure all the fans and players want him to stay, but it’s up to him the decision he makes with his management group where he wants to end up.”
Wallis thinks a longer pre-season and extra responsibility could be the things that get Stringer recapturing his best form.
“I think starting a little bit earlier in the pre-season is going to help the whole team,” he said.
“We only had a limited preparation for last year’s season which is a positive because you’ve been so successful the year before.
“But a full pre-season and I think adding a little bit more responsibility from a leadership point of view will be a good thing as well. Maybe mentor a few kids and tell him that he’s responsible for some of the young draftees coming through to set the example, just put him a little bit more in the spotlight with those kind of things.
“And keep having those hard conversations if he doesn’t live up to the standards that we’re upholding.”
Since being taken at pick No.5 in the 2012 draft, Stringer has played 89 games and kicked 160 goals for the Bulldogs. He has led the club’s goalkicking the last three seasons.