It's time to stop shaming Jake Stringer: Shiel
Essendon midfielder Dylan Shiel has called on critics to stop shaming Jake Stringer, saying it's time to celebrate what the powerful big man brings rather than what he lacks.
Stringer will miss Essendon's round-one clash with Hawthorn at the MCG on Sunday after failing to overcome a hamstring niggle.
The 28-year-old has been troubled by a raft of injuries during his five-year stint at the Bombers, with some critics questioning his commitment to fitness standards.
Shiel deflected a question about whether Stringer had turned up to pre-season training out of shape and said it was time for people to stop shaming the 192cm, 92kg star.
"We've been pretty hard on Jake all through his career," Shiel told reporters on Wednesday.
"(There needs to be an) understanding that everyone is different, everyone's body responds differently to training.
"What Jake lacks (in some areas) he makes up in other aspects of the game, with his ability to be strong and powerful.
"They're things that a lot of players wish they could have.
"There's certainly improvement there for him to make but sometimes you get to a point in someone's career where you've got to celebrate what they're bringing and not so much shaming them for what they're lacking."
Dyson Heppell (sprained foot) remains in doubt for Sunday's clash with the Hawks, but forward Alwyn Davey is firming for an AFL debut.
"He's ready," Shiel said of the 19-year-old speedster. "Some of his attributes he's been showing on the track are exceptional.
"He's got incredible speed, agility - the pressure he brings in our forward line excites me.
"I'm hoping he gets the nod for round one, because he's going to bring some excitement to the club."
Shiel will reach his 200-match milestone on Sunday, in a match that marks the official start of the Brad Scott era at Essendon.
The 30-year-old spent the first seven seasons of his career at GWS before making the switch to Essendon at the end of 2018.
Shiel said the birth of his first-born daughter Sloane in November had changed his perspective on life and footy.
"I was the most important thing in my life prior to my baby arriving," he said.
"In an instant she became the most important thing."