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Stringer ruled out of Bombers’ AFL clash

Essendon star Jake Stringer has failed in his bid to be fit for the Bombers’ round-one AFL clash with Geelong.

Stringer, who re-emerged as one of the AFL’s most dynamic players last year, has not overcome a problematic groin injury.

The 27-year-old’s absence against the Cats at the MCG on Saturday is a major blow for the Bombers as they aim to build on a promising 2021 campaign.

Stringer booted 41 goals last season with his form a major factor in Essendon storming into the finals series.

“We want the best version of Jake and to build him up to succeed throughout the whole season,” coach Ben Rutten said.

Stringer joins fellow exciting forward Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti on the sidelines.

McDonald-Tipungwuti took personal leave earlier this year to deal with off-field issues but has since returned to the club.

However, the 28-year-old is well behind in his conditioning to play at AFL level and is unlikely to feature early in the season.

At Hawthorn, Sam Mitchell’s debut game as an AFL coach will be without captain Ben McEvoy and veteran forward Luke Breust, who were both ruled out of Sunday’s clash with North Melbourne due to COVID-19 protocols.

Midfielder Jaeger O’Meara will skipper the Hawks in McEvoy’s absence.

Hawthorn will hand debuts to draftees Josh Ward and Connor Macdonald.

Ward was taken at pick seven in last year’s draft and has impressed in the Hawks’ pre-season games.

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