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Daniel aiming high in 2019

Press Conference | Caleb Daniel Caleb Daniel spoke to the media before the the Bulldogs open training session in Mooloolaba

Western Bulldogs runner Caleb Daniel has bounced back from post-season knee surgery and has set his sights on being a strong contributor in the JLT Community Series.

Daniel is also keen to further explore his growing versatility, given he made his name as a midfielder who spent time in attack, before impressing in defence in the final month of last season.

Since making his AFL debut in mid-2015, the midfielder has played 74 of a possible 81 games and, now entering his fifth AFL season, he plans to take his game to new heights.

"I've been in the AFL system for a few years now and I think you can only improve every year," Daniel, 22, said at a media conference during the Bulldogs' training camp at Mooloolaba in Queensland.

"I've had a little injury-interrupted pre-season (with) just a bit of knee surgery at the back end of last year, but I've come in and I'm going through now. To be fit and to be going towards JLT is really nice.

"The knee is sweet – all fine."


Although the 2016 premiership player is determined to strengthen his position in the Bulldogs' line-up, he still remains uncertain what actual position he will be asked to play this season.

Last year he played 20 games and averaged 21 disposals, including a terrific last four rounds in which he averaged 30 touches in a previously unfamiliar role as a half-back flanker.

Perhaps complicating the issue is the Dogs' recruitment of Hawthorn premiership defender Taylor Duryea.

In any case, Daniel insisted he would gladly perform any role set for him by coach Luke Beveridge.

"I'm not too sure (where I'll play). That's one of the things that 'Bevo' really instils in you is to be a three-line player as much as you can. So it depends on where he wants me to play and where I'm playing my best football," Daniel said.

"Last year up forward I probably wasn't playing my best footy and the move down back towards the back end of the year worked out for myself and the team.

"I'm not too sure at the moment but I'm happy to play wherever."

Daniel said he was learning to be smarter with his running, as well as working at being cleaner with his ball handling and disposal.


He said ball use had been a focus for the entire playing group after the Bulldogs had missed the finals for the second successive season after winning the premiership.

"I think there's a vast selection of things that we need to improve on. We didn't really use the footy too well last year, especially going inside 50 and around the arcs," he said.

"The offense always starts from defence so we've got to tidy it up and tighten up a little bit through there."

The Bulldogs are scheduled to play their first JLT Community Series game against Gold Coast in Mackay, Queensland, on Sunday, March 3, followed by a clash with St Kilda at Ballarat on Sunday, March 10.

They will open the premiership season by hosting Sydney under lights at Marvel Stadium on Saturday, March 23.