Stringer theory involves the sheer physics of genius, with a pinch of mystery. Nowadays the ’Dogs have targets, and none better than Stringer. He’s 22 with a couple of kids and has parlayed that maturity into his football.
Added to his inchoate virtuosity, it’s become a potent brew. In the next decade, beginning with this finals series, he’ll summon magical big-game footy. He can kick late goals in a crisis. He can pulverise a solid defence in seconds. “The Package” is inimitable.
What can we expect from him?
A freak show. If you’re opposition, a problem. He has no natural enemy. No matter who they put on him, he has a strength to cover it.
Like Ablett Sr, he’s a bolt of explosive muscle. He jinks his way through swarms and coolly puts boot to ball, producing enchanted goals, every bit as entertaining as Rioli – and that’s saying something. His ability to penetrate lines differs from Rioli’s sharp, intense physicality. We’ve seen him squirt an entrapped ball out of an impenetrable lattice of arms and legs like a watermelon seed, and cause a team-mate to goal. He has eyes for the sticks, and he’ll reach them with a big mark and set shot, or crumbing, or charging through the middle after fending off his man with hurdle-strong arms or swivelling out of a tackle.
And on those rare occasions he’s out of a contest, wholesome industry gets him back. He’s able to play any position, and, like Buddy, he’s a forward who can go deep into the midfield and get what’s rightly his. That makes him a nightmare for the defender dragged downfield.
His lurking presence gives opponents a shiver. Whenever he gets it, he’s perpetual motion. Intent is in the air. He’s one cool gunslinger.
He, all of the above, will thrive on finals football.