The Western Bulldogs have signed former cricketer James O’Donnell as a Category B Rookie.

A talented athlete across his junior years, O’Donnell was pursuing a career in cricket via the district competition for Essendon, playing alongside brother Tom, who is currently in the Victorian squad.

The 20-year-old will become a third generation VFL/AFL player with his Grandfather (Kevin) and father (Simon) playing games for St Kilda during the 1940’s and 1980’s respectively.

Simon O’Donnell also represented Australia in cricket, playing six test matches and pulling on the green and gold 87 times in ODI cricket during his career.


O’Donnell comes to the Bulldogs with a previous background in football, having played alongside defender Luke Cleary and North Melbourne midfielder Will Phillips in the Victorian Under 12 schoolboys football side.

Previously, O’Donnell had also played junior football for Kew and Xavier College before deciding to pursue cricket, having not played a match since 2019.

Bulldogs National Recruiting Manager, Dom Milesi was thrilled to secure O’Donnell after following the youngster closely in the event that football became an option.

“We’ve had our eye on James across the year and we’re really excited that he’s chosen to return to football with the Western Bulldogs,” Milesi said.

“James has a really strong athletic profile at 197cm and 88kg, having a significant growth spurt since last playing football, bringing some versatility to our list.

“Everyone is looking forward to welcoming him to the Club and watching him developing in the coming years.”

O’Donnell becomes the first alternate athlete signed by the Western Bulldogs as Category B Rookie and is now an additional player on the playing list.

He will arrive at VU Whitten Oval on Friday, April 7.