Our AFL experts tackle some of the burning questions ahead of Round 15.
Is Jake Stringer a top 10 player in the league?
Rohan Connolly: In terms of ability, yes. In terms of performance, which is really how you have to measure it, no. In fairness to him, though, when he's been fully fit at Essendon, his performances have been pretty consistent. And games like last Sunday's really do remind you just how much pure football talent he has, a great combination of strength and footy smarts and instinct. There's certainly not many others who can do the sort of stuff he does.h1">
- img src="https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/photo/2021/0621/r870274_1080x1080_1-1.jpg&w=130&h=130&scale=crop&location=center" width="65" height="65"">Stocks up, stocks down: The Package is delivering
- img src="https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/photo/2021/0505/r849826_1296x1296_1-1.jpg&w=130&h=130&scale=crop&location=center" width="65" height="65"">ESPN's 2021 Brownlow Medal predictor
Jake Michaels: The closest thing we have to Dustin Martin -- the consnsus No. 1 player in the league -- is Stringer. That's not saying he's the second best player in the AFL (he's not) but he plays with that similar bullocking style, which seemingly cannot be stopped when in top gear. Both start at the centre bounces and push forward whre they do their best work. Unfortunately, consistency and injuries have let Stringer down. If he can find a way to win 25 percent more ball, I have no doubt he's a top 10 player, but right now he's in that 11-20 band.
Matt Walsh: Considering he's had a top 10 best and fairest finish once in his career, it would seem he's barely a top 10 player at his own club! He's great when on, but as the stat suggests, far too inconsistent. Dusty does it most weeks -- as does Toby Greene and Bont -- while Danger, Fyfe and a dozen others are all well ahead of Stinger.
Jesse Robinson: Nope. Stringer has the ability to put it all together and be a match winner on his day but he's far too inconsistent to be a top 10 player. Add to that he's only collected a total of 13 Brownlow votes in his career, I think he's still got a bit of work to do before he enters the Fyfe, Martin, Patrick Dangerfield category. He may sneak in to the top 10 forwards category.figure">
Is Stuart Dew the man to coach the Suns for the next four years?
RC: Really tough one to answer, because I'm convinced a lot of their problems are a consequence of the location of the club, and the fact there just isn't that buzz, nor real intense pressure around the players to perform. The sad part for Dew is things might have slipped to the stage where it does take a real marquee name as coach to have people keep paying attention. Not his fault, but he may end up paying the price.
JM: Yet again, I'm going to say coaches can't make that much of a difference without the right personnel on the park. The Suns have way more issues at the moment than who is in charge, but someone has to take the fall and I expect it will be Dew. Will he be there in 2025? No, I don't think so.
MW: Get the player retention issues sorted, field a side that's not the youngest or second-youngest in the league, and avoid a 'go-home-five' situation and the coaching will take care of itself. I like the Neil Craig role, and Dew is, from all reports, a switched-on operator. He's been in charge for nearly four years, I'd love to see him mature and get better with this current list over another four.
JR: Four years is an incredibly long time in football, but for now the Suns should stick with Dew. It's obvious the players like him, he's a good man manager, which could be vital in player retention, which is a big area of concern for them. We've seen some lacklustre performances from the Suns but let's not forget some inspired efforts, like the win against Collingwood. The Suns need a bit of consistency, so I wouldn't be tipping Dew out any time soon. If there is concerns about the Suns' play style or tactics, then perhaps Dew's assistant coaching staff need to be looked at, much like Richmond did at the end of 2016.h1">
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Josh Dunkley's 'rock bottom': 'Was told to jump off a bridge'
Which injury harms their side's flag hopes more - Robbie Gray or Mitch Duncan?
RC: Line ball, but I'd probably argue Gray. I think Duncan probably contributes more to the Cats right now than Gray does Port, but I also reckon the Cats can better cover his absence in terms of pure possessions. With Gray, the whole left without him isn't so much about numbers of touches as goalkicking, but even more so, about leadership and coolness under pressure. I think in an area in which the Power are still a little suspect, Gray provides a lot of that.
JM: Both are terrific players but I think Port will struggle more to fill the void left by Gray. Let's face it, he's a goalkicker and a damn good one at that! Ken Hinkley's side has had its issues in front of the sticks, so losing a player of Gray's ability and class is a huge blow. Plus, given the Cats are more likely to finish top four than Port, the loss of Duncan shouldn't be too catastrophic in the run to September.