Proud Bulldog: Jake Stringer with the No. 9 guernsey he will wear for the Western Bulldogs.

Proud Bulldog: Jake Stringer with the No. 9 guernsey he will wear for the Western Bulldogs. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

WHILE Jake Stringer could still be excused for being caught up in the whirlwind of becoming the Western Bulldogs' top draft pick, it is clear the young lad from Bendigo is a composed character.

Indeed, the Whitten Oval became his desired home last summer when, while training at the ground as part of the AFL-AIS squad, the forward-midfielder became friendly with a couple of fresh Bulldog faces.

''My preference was the Bulldogs,'' Stringer said on Tuesday, recalling his thoughts as names were read out during last week's draft.

''I was lucky to get here. I came here in January as part of the AFL-AIS Academy. I spent time with [Michael] Talia and [Clay] Smith and those boys. I had a good relationship with them when I was here for that week, so it's good to keep it going.''

That desire to join the Bulldogs may have developed because, somewhat oddly, he had not supported an AFL club growing up, save for a slight affection for North Melbourne, preferring to focus on basketball.

Still, his willingness to embrace the Bulldogs was shown when it was revealed he would inherit Lindsay Gilbee's No. 9 guernsey. Gilbee has retired after a 161-game career and the All-Australian was a popular figure among fans and teammates.

Young players, intent on forging their own path, do not always appreciate those who have gone before them. Stringer, clearly, is different.

''I wasn't expecting to get No. 9. I am still a little bit shocked that I got it,'' he said.

''I just thought I would get a back-end number, but when I rocked in and I saw my name was on No. 9, I was stunned, I couldn't believe it. I am absolutely thrilled I have got that.

''At the same time, there is that little bit of expectation of getting such a great player of the past's number, and to live up to that.

''I am hoping he pops down and I will have a chat to him about the history of his number and what it means to him. It's something that I am really keen to do.''

Gilbee would probably recall how the Bulldogs reached three straight preliminary finals during his time. The Dogs hope the likes of Stringer, taken with the fifth overall pick, and teammate Jackson Macrae, taken at No. 6, can eventually go a week better and secure the club an elusive second premiership.

In the meantime, as Stringer made clear, there is plenty of work to be done. Much was made of his recovery from a broken leg in the lead-up to the draft, and his awkward running gait, which may be remodelled by fitness staff.

''Everything is fine, the leg is fine. I have just completed my first training on Monday - it's all good,'' Stringer said.

At 190 centimetres and 93 kilograms, Stringer already has the physical maturity to play senior football, as he did in the strong Bendigo League last season.

The Bulldogs need goalkickers, and Stringer is expected to help in this regard. He also craves winning the contested ball, which delights his coaches.

''I am hoping to play a bit of senior footy. I have probably got the bigger body out of the guys that were drafted,'' Stringer said.

''It's probably a bit more likely for me to step into [senior football].

''Contested ball, that's something I see as a pretty big strength in my game.

'' I think that's what the club is building a lot of its young players on - the contested ball.

''I will do my hard yards this pre-season and we will see where it takes me at the start of the season.''