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THE FATHERS of Jake Stringer and Jack Watts have slammed their sons' estranged clubs, saying the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne have treated the contracted pair appallingly.
John Stringer says his son has faced a "public stoning" since being publicly put up for trade by the Dogs, while Andrew Watts says Jack has been made out to be a "reprobate" by the Demons.
Both players remain in limbo, with Stringer hoping for a trade to Essendon and Watts most closely linked with Port Adelaide.
John Stringer opened up on his son's difficult past month, with the Dogs distancing themselves from Jake amidst his ex-partner's public claims of his infidelity and off-field problems.
"It has been disappointing," Stringer told NAB AFL Trade Radio on Monday morning.
"There's been a little bit of a public stoning, from our perspective.
"We thought he was obviously contracted [for another year] at the Dogs and was going to stay there, so for them to come out publicly and say it's time to move on is a little bit disappointing.
"I think for the whole family it's been fairly tough, and probably more so for Jake.
"The human face of the whole football industry sometimes gets forgotten a little bit, and I think particularly in Jake's case, it's very easy for people to cast aspersions and say this has happened, or that's happened.
"At the end of the day, you're dealing with a human being."
John Stringer added that his son, who is the father of two young children, had been "pretty stressed" in recent weeks and was headed overseas on a US holiday on Monday.
He said they were approaching the situation now with an "onwards and upwards" attitude.
"Maybe a change is really what he needs," he said.
"Essendon have been quite supportive so we're hopeful that's what will transpire."
Stringer's manager, Paul Connors, said the Dogs simply had to trade the player now, rather than hold him to his contract after all that has transpired.
"They don't want him, so why would they want to keep him?" Connors said.
"You've got to be careful, because when he's contracted it's harder, there's less options.
"He's going overseas today, if he doesn't get traded by Thursday he might stay there if he's having a great time.
"Given we didn't initiate this – and they can say it was a mutual decision to explore options, I'd like to challenge that because Jake wanted to stay – now they've said they want him to go, it's time to go.
"If they don't trade him, he'll go very cheaply the following year, you would think."
Connors said he believed two second round draft selections would be a fair trade for Stringer, but claimed the Bombers "haven't really officially offered anything" yet after they traded pick No.11 for Devon Smith last week.
Meanwhile, Andrew Watts said his son Jack had been slandered as unprofessional by the Demons.
"What we don't understand is we feel Jack's been put out there as a bit of a reprobate, a misfit in not turning up fit, not putting in a good effort, being a bad influence on younger kids," Watts said.
"A lot of AFL people have seen him for eight or nine years in the media and he turns up with a smile on his face, he does work hard, so we just don't understand that language.
"It's the reality of the system a little bit.
"If his mother was here, you'd hear a bit more."
Andrew also said Jack had "got used to the idea he's not going to be at Melbourne", and had enjoyed "a really good discussion with [Port Adelaide coach] Ken Hinkley" although had a couple of clubs "in the firing line".
Power list manager Jason Cripps said they believed Geelong was "still in the game" for Watts, despite the Cats' recent declaration they would struggle to land the deal.
"We're hoping it goes our way but there's obviously some opposition," Cripps said.
"Hopefully we'll be able to get it done."
Watts attended Demon teammate Bernie Vince's wedding in Adelaide on the weekend, and will return to Melbourne on Monday.
Connors said his client hadn't declared a preferred club because "sometimes you just need to get the deal done".
But, he denied there was a chance Watts would see out the remaining two years on his contract in the red and blue despite the Demons' hard-ball stance at the trade table.
"He doesn’t go with any bad blood, but he has to go," Connors said.
"Those discussions will be held behind closed doors … but you can't tell a person he should leave, and then demand pick No.9 for him."
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