Essendon coach Ben Rutten and Jake Stringer still on good terms


Essendon coach Ben Rutten last week didn’t hold back assessing one star’s game but says there’s been no fallout.

Essendon coach Ben Rutten has no regrets about his post-game assessment of Jake Stringer’s return to football last week as “poor”, adamant both he and the powerhouse on-baller expect more this week.

The battling Bombers will go into Friday night’s clash against St Kilda without key midfielder Darcy Parish, who has succumbed to a corked calf, but will welcome back Andy McGrath after he missed last week’s loss to the Blues.

It was after that 25-point defeat that Rutten gave the stinging assessment of Stringer, who had just nine disposals in his first game since round 7 having overcome a hamstring injury.

Rutten said he “didn’t go out of my way” to single out Stringer and, having spoken to the 28-year-old, was adamant they were on the same page about what’s expected from him this week.

“He was OK. He takes responsibility for that (performance). No difference in expectation there, but that’s OK, he’ll bounce back,” Rutten said on Thursday.

“I got asked a question about his game – I didn’t go out of my way to talk about him. I didn’t think it was too big a deal.

“Jake and I are good, we’ve got a good, strong relationship. It’s about trying to get the best out of him.

“His back half of last year, in particular, I think we saw the consistent capacity of Jake.

“I understand he’s missed a fair bit of footy this year, so we’re going to help support him get back to his best.”

As well as losing Parish, the Bombers will also be without 2019 best and fairest Devon Smith for some time after he succumbed to his knee issues and had a clean out.

Parish’s absence is a massive blow to the Bombers who have won just two of 12 games this season. But Rutten is confident the prolific ball winner will only miss one game.

“He struggled this week to get up, so, no, he won‘t play for us unfortunately,” he said.

“He copped the corkie basically the first centre bounce of the game. I think he ended up playing about three quarters.

“We knew that was probably going to increase his risk of (not) getting up this week, but unfortunately he didn‘t quite get there.

“We’re hopeful it’s just this week. Corkies tend to pick up pretty quick once the bleeding stops, but (he) didn’t quite get there this week.”

In more positive news both Kyle Langford and Will Snelling will return from hamstring and calf injuries in the VFL, while veteran defender Michael Hurley is closing in on a return to main training as he continues to recover from a serious leg infection.

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