Wayne Carey has urged faltering Western Bulldogs star Jake Stringer to change the way he plays, with the Bulldogs’ premiership defence hanging in the balance.
Carey, one of the game’s greatest forwards, with 727 career goals, believes Stringer needs to stop being a player who only flies for the spectacular marks and start working harder for his midfielders.
Stringer, who kicked 56 goals in his 2015 All-Australian season, has managed just 24 from his 15 games this year, including 10 games with one goal or less.
“Now that [Jack] Redpath’s out, [Tom] Boyd’s not playing … sometimes I think he has to be stronger in his conviction,” Carey said.
“He needs to make sure that when they need an outlet, he has to work hard to be that outlet … not allow someone else to be that player.
“Sometimes you need to be that guy.”
The Bulldogs head into Saturday’s clash with Port Adelaide in Ballarat knowing that a loss could all but end their season.
Stringer, along with Travis Cloke, will spearhead the Dogs’ forward line in the absence of Redpath and Boyd.
“Clearly he’s an extremely talented footballer and it was only a few years ago that he was All-Australian and what I noticed about him in that year, he’s such an explosive athlete and can kick the ball a country mile,” Carey said.
“He’s got all of these marvellous attributes and it all came together for him. But since then he’s changed elements of how he plays.
“He doesn’t to me look like he wants to come to the ball carrier. He doesn’t want to be the guy sitting under the footy, he wants to be the guy leaping over the back.”
In 2015, the Bulldogs’ talisman had a lot more support in the forward line. He was aided by Stewart Crameri and Tory Dickson, who combined for 82 goals.
With Crameri sidelined, Carey admits Stringer hasn’t had the same support this season, but he wants Stringer to return to being a dynamic beast.
“Players now just sit behind and say ‘We’re not going to allow you to go back towards goal’ and now he’s easier to defend.
“When I’m watching him some times I’m saying to myself: ‘You’ve got to come up and make it easier for the ball carrier, not harder for them’.
“Contest to contest to contest to contest, that’s how he has to be thinking, not just marking contests.”