LACHIE Hunter has thought outside the box regarding how best to curb the influence of good mate and former teammate Jake Stringer in Sunday's AFL elimination final.
"I messaged Jake earlier this week and told him I was going to check him into a tier-one site, so he might be out for this week. We had a laugh," Western Bulldogs on-baller Hunter quipped.
"He's obviously a damaging player. He's probably in the form of his career, (similar to) what he was doing here when he was at the peak of his powers ... he's one we'll have to watch."
Essendon star Stringer's battle with his 2016 premiership teammates shapes as an entertaining subplot in Launceston.
Stringer has been a pivotal part of the Bombers' season-ending streak of three wins, which secured the final spot in the top eight.
Stringer's former side have struggled in that same stretch, logging losses to Essendon, Hawthorn and Port Adelaide while surrendering a top-four spot.
Hunter insisted on Thursday there were plenty of positives to draw from a final-round loss to Port – the Bulldogs led throughout the night until Robbie Gray put his team in front when it mattered most.
"It was a step in the right direction," he said.
"There were things we could have done better but you don't get near Port Adelaide and lose by two points without doing a few things right.
"We definitely took some confidence out of that game.
"It's easy to look at those three weeks without looking at the whole year and accumulating 15 wins. So we've just tried to focus on the positives while still focusing on what we need to improve."
The Bulldogs' recent woes have included a star-studded midfield that is yet to click since Adam Treloar's return from injury in the round-21 loss to the Bombers, which came soon after Josh Dunkley's return from quarantine.
"It's been a strength of our team and we saw that at the start of the year, how well it worked together," Hunter said.
"We're just trying to find that form and find that mix.
"With Ads and Dunks coming back in, it's just about learning how to play with all of us in there again."