JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.



Stringer finally has a leg to stand on

Building for the future: Jake Stringer uses some weights as he prepares for the AFL draft.

Building for the future: Jake Stringer uses some weights as he prepares for the AFL draft. Photo: Jim Aidersey/Bendigo Advertiser

AFL hopeful Jake Stringer has overcome an awful injury.

JAKE Stringer doesn't even start to explain any more. Whenever someone asks why he missed a whole year of football he simply reaches for his phone and scrolls through his photo roll until he reaches it.

People say, 'What happened to your leg? How bad did it look? What was it like?' I just hand the phone over and say, 'Have a look for yourself'. They take one look and then it's, 'Oh, come on, I didn't need to see that'. 

The picture is from his local paper, and in it you can see Stringer being tackled while playing for the Bendigo Pioneers at the start of last year. His right foot is kicking the back of his left leg and his broken shin bone is about to break through the skin. ''He's done well, the photographer,'' says Stringer, who has become used not only to the question but the inevitable response.

Painful day: Stringer breaks his leg as he is tackled by Rebel Jake Neade.

Painful day: Stringer breaks his leg as he is tackled by Rebel Jake Neade. Photo: Getty Images

''People say, 'What happened to your leg? How bad did it look? What was it like?' I just hand the phone over and say, 'Have a look for yourself'. They take one look and then it's, 'Oh, come on, I didn't need to see that'.''

It's almost two full seasons since the day in Ballarat when the tibia and fibula in Stringer's leg snapped. He can remember the sound, the pain, the way people went white when they looked at him. ''Old Ghosty here,'' he says, looking across at his father, John.

He can remember the physios holding his leg together, too scared to move in case they made him scream even more. The 90 minutes it took the ambulance to arrive, and the instant understanding that he wouldn't be playing footy again for a while. If the memories start feeling vague, he need only glance down at the scars or fetch the X-rays from his wardrobe, and there they are again. Stringer sums up the afternoon. ''It was crook.''

The injury wiped out Stringer's 2011 season before it had even really started, teaching him how to recover from serious surgery, how to get around on crutches, how to ask for help getting out of bed in the middle of the night when he needed to get to the toilet, what it felt like to be lapped by elderly neighbours walking laps of the reservoir near his home. It made him miss out on things, slow down, and just when he thought it was dealt with he found himself back in hospital, faced with doing everything all over again.

Stringer had a long metal rod removed from his leg in February, as well as three screws. He was told he would walk out of hospital later the same day, but when he came to he looked down and realised his leg was a mess again, that he wouldn't be going anywhere any time soon.

''I was stooged,'' he grumbles, recalling another two weeks on crutches, another two weeks of depending on other people, an unexpected and almost total restart.

When recruiters have visited, asking Stringer about his limp, his running gait, and whether he'll be able to play full-time in the midfield again, his mother Donna longs to show them a photo from the hospital bed less than six months ago. Really, Stringer has overcome two serious injuries in the past two years. ''They talk about what he hasn't done,'' Donna said, ''and not what he has.''

Stringer stuck to his original plan: to be up and going as soon as his season this year started. He played for the AIS-AFL Academy in a game against Box Hill, less than five weeks after his surgery, because it was the game he had missed out on almost 12 months earlier. He was voted the academy's best player in its game against a European side two weeks later, and kicked seven goals for Bendigo in his first match back from the overseas trip, but none of it happened easily.

''I've had to teach myself everything again, pretty much,'' he said. ''Where to run to, how to get a kick, how to read the ball. I hadn't had to think about that sort of stuff before.''

He had to deal with a bit more pain, too, getting a knock to the leg during the under-18 championships that hurt, a lot. He took some advice after that, and started to wear a shin guard. ''It's made the biggest difference. It made me feel like myself again,'' Stringer said. ''I started to stick my head in and if I got hit I'd just think, 'Hah! Shin guard'!''

He didn't have the season he wanted to have. It wasn't until he played three late games for Bendigo's VFL side that he felt motivated, urgent and desperate to please. There was only one way to win his new teammates over in those games, and that was to tackle, chase and defend. He knew people wanted him to be resting, training up, getting ready for the draft, making sure his stocks didn't drop. ''We talked about that a lot,'' said John.

''We went through it and talked about whether he'd be better off just training, just getting fit for the draft, but that didn't appeal to Jake at all.''

In fact, Stringer didn't care whether he became a top-five pick, a top-10 pick or fell further than that. He didn't care if clubs saw him as simply a marking forward, or whether they believed him when he told them he would be a midfielder. All he wanted to do was play football again, without thinking about the consequences.

It means that, wherever this week's draft takes him, his season was a success. ''It was hard, because I've been thinking about the draft for a long time. It's been talked about since I was 15 and it feels like I've been waiting ages for it.

''This year I just thought, 'OK, I don't care. I don't care who's watching and I don't care what they think, because I just want to play'.

''People kept saying to me, 'What are you doing? You're limping, you can't walk properly, you can't run'. And all I could say was, 'Dude, I couldn't give a shit, I missed out on a whole year'. ''I know I'm fine. I know I'll be able to go to a club and do all the training and be able to play next year. I didn't even think about not playing. No way was I missing any more footy.''

Related Coverage

AFL 2015

Round 1
Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
CAR vs RIC 19:20MCG
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
MEL vs GCF 13:40MCG
SYD vs ESS 16:35ANZ
BRI vs COL 19:20G
WBU vs WCE 19:20ES
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
STK vs GWS 13:10ES
ADE vs NTH 15:20Adelaide Oval
FRE vs PTA 18:40Domain Stadium
Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW vs GEE 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
WCE vs CAR 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC vs WBU 13:45MCG
GWS vs MEL 14:10SO
COL vs ADE 16:35ES
GCF vs STK 19:20MS
PTA vs SYD 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
GEE vs FRE 13:10SS
ESS vs HAW 15:20MCG
NTH vs BRI 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
COL vs STK 19:50MCG
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
CAR vs ESS 13:45MCG
ADE vs MEL 14:10Adelaide Oval
SYD vs GWS 16:35SCG
NTH vs PTA 19:20ES
BRI vs RIC 19:20G
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW vs WBU 13:10AS
GEE vs GCF 15:20SS
WCE vs FRE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC vs MEL 19:50MCG
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
STK vs CAR 11:10NZ
ESS vs COL 14:40MCG
GWS vs GCF 17:40SO
PTA vs HAW 19:40Adelaide Oval
FRE vs SYD 20:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI vs WCE 13:10G
GEE vs NTH 15:20SS
WBU vs ADE 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR vs COL 19:50MCG
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC vs GEE 13:45MCG
SYD vs WBU 14:10SCG
GCF vs BRI 16:35MS
NTH vs HAW 19:20ES
WCE vs GWS 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL vs FRE 13:10MCG
STK vs ESS 15:20ES
ADE vs PTA 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
COL vs GEE 19:50MCG
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
NTH vs RIC 13:45BA
WBU vs STK 14:10ES
GWS vs HAW 16:35Spotless Stadium
GCF vs ADE 17:10MS
MEL vs SYD 19:20MCG
FRE vs ESS 20:10Domain Stadium
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR vs BRI 15:20ES
PTA vs WCE 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS vs NTH 19:50ES
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE vs STK 13:45Adelaide Oval
HAW vs MEL 14:10MCG
CAR vs GWS 16:35ES
SYD vs GEE 19:20ANZ
WCE vs GCF 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
WBU vs FRE 13:10ES
RIC vs COL 15:20MCG
BRI vs PTA 16:40G
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
GEE vs CAR 19:50ES
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
STK vs WCE 13:45ES
GWS vs ADE 14:10Spotless Stadium
GCF vs COL 16:35MS
HAW vs SYD 19:20MCG
FRE vs NTH 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS vs BRI 13:10ES
MEL vs WBU 15:20MCG
PTA vs RIC 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD vs CAR 19:50SCG
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW vs GCF 13:45AS
MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
WBU vs GWS 16:35ES
RIC vs ESS 19:20MCG
ADE vs FRE 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs STK 13:10G
COL vs NTH 15:20MCG
WCE vs GEE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR vs ADE 13:40MCG
GCF vs SYD 16:35MS
ESS vs GEE 19:20ES
PTA vs WBU 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
GWS vs BRI 13:10Spotless Stadium
NTH vs WCE 15:20BA
STK vs HAW 16:40ES
Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
GCF vs FRE 13:40MS
WCE vs ESS 16:35Domain Stadium
NTH vs SYD 19:20ES
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
COL vs GWS 13:10MCG
STK vs MEL 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Thu, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC vs WCE 19:50MCG
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR vs PTA 13:40MCG
GWS vs NTH 16:35Spotless Stadium
WBU vs BRI 19:20ES
Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
GEE vs MEL 15:20SS
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE vs COL 20:10Domain Stadium
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD vs RIC 19:50SCG
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW vs ESS 13:40MCG
BRI vs ADE 16:35G
STK vs WBU 19:20ES
Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR vs GCF 15:20ES
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs PTA 19:20SCG
Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
COL vs HAW 19:50MCG
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs GWS 13:40MCG
GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
WBU vs CAR 19:20ES
MEL vs WCE 19:40TIO
Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS vs STK 13:10ES
ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
FRE vs BRI 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs COL 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs CAR 19:50MCG
Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS vs MEL 13:40MCG
WBU vs GCF 16:35CAZ
NTH vs GEE 19:20ES
WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs STK 13:10Spotless Stadium
HAW vs FRE 15:20AS
BRI vs SYD 16:40G
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
NTH vs ESS 19:50ES
Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE vs WBU 13:45SS
GCF vs GWS 14:10MS
COL vs WCE 16:35ES
SYD vs HAW 19:20ANZ
FRE vs CAR 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
PTA vs ADE 15:20Adelaide Oval
STK vs RIC 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs GEE 13:45SO
ADE vs GCF 14:10Adelaide Oval
RIC vs FRE 16:35MCG
ESS vs PTA 19:20ES
BRI vs NTH 19:20G
Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
WBU vs COL 13:10ES
MEL vs STK 15:20MCG
WCE vs SYD 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
HAW vs RIC 19:50MCG
Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE vs BRI 13:45SS
COL vs MEL 14:10MCG
SYD vs ADE 16:35SCG
CAR vs NTH 19:20ES
GCF vs WCE 19:20MS
Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
PTA vs STK 13:10Adelaide Oval
ESS vs WBU 15:20ES
FRE vs GWS 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
WBU vs PTA 14:10ES
BRI vs GCF 16:35G
GEE vs SYD 19:20SS
WCE vs HAW 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
MEL vs NTH 13:10MCG
GWS vs ESS 15:20Spotless Stadium
STK vs FRE 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD vs COL 19:50SCG
Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS vs ADE 13:45ES
NTH vs STK 14:10BA
PTA vs GWS 16:35Adelaide Oval
GEE vs HAW 19:20MCG
BRI vs CAR 19:20G
Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC vs GCF 13:10MCG
WBU vs MEL 15:20ES
FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW vs PTA 19:50ES
Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
COL vs RIC 13:45MCG
GWS vs SYD 14:10Spotless Stadium
GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
STK vs GEE 19:20ES
ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH vs FRE 13:10ES
CAR vs MEL 15:20MCG
WCE vs WBU 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE vs COL 19:50MCG
Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
GWS vs CAR 13:45Spotless Stadium
HAW vs BRI 14:10AS
NTH vs WBU 16:35ES
ESS vs RIC 19:20MCG
GCF vs PTA 19:20MS
Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE vs WCE 13:10Adelaide Oval
STK vs SYD 15:20ES
FRE vs MEL 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
COL vs ESS 00:00MCG
RIC vs NTH 00:00ES
HAW vs CAR 00:00MCG
GEE vs ADE 00:00SS
SYD vs GCF 00:00SCG
MEL vs GWS 00:00ES
BRI vs WBU 00:00G
PTA vs FRE 00:30Adelaide Oval
WCE vs STK 02:00Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
AFL 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Adelaide Crows 0 0 0 0 - 0
Brisbane Lions 0 0 0 0 - 0
Carlton 0 0 0 0 - 0
Collingwood 0 0 0 0 - 0
Essendon 0 0 0 0 - 0
Fremantle 0 0 0 0 - 0
Geelong Cats 0 0 0 0 - 0
Gold Coast Suns 0 0 0 0 - 0
View all
 
Featured advertisers