Star midfielder Josh Dunkley has left 2020 in the rear-view mirror, as he sets his sights on recapturing the form that had him on the verge of All Australian selection a year earlier.
It was a tough year for the 24-year-old, who missed a large chunk of football due to injury before exploring a trade to Essendon at season’s end.
That trade didn’t eventuate – but he’s not disappointed.
Dunkley – ever the professional – has slotted back into the Kennel seamlessly.
“It’s been business as usual,” he told westernbulldogs.com.au.
“It was a challenging time – it’s nice to be back, and being back in the building. I haven’t approached things any differently. The boys and the staff have been really good.
“It’s been good to come back in with opens arms and get to work, train hard and be in a position where I can play the best footy I can for the team.”
Dunkley’s work ethic on the training track has been evident – he’s run a PB in his pre-season running test, and says he’s feeling ‘stronger than ever’ in the gym.
He just wants to be back playing footy again, in whatever role that might be.
If he can get a clear run at things, like in 2019, he’s hopeful of recapturing the hot streak of form that propelled him into the All Australian squad of 40 alongside the likes of Marcus Bontempelli and Jack Macrae.
“Injuries happen, and last year was disappointing missing that big chunk,” Dunkley said.
“I just want to play consistent footy. That’s what I did in 2019 and I was able to build some strength towards the back end of that season. The good players play well consistently, and that’s certainly one of my goals this year.
“Everyone came back in really good shape – which has allowed us to play through the midfield, out on a wing, up forward or wherever we need to be. I’ll work with what Bevo wants and what the team needs.”
Dunkley has made new recruit Adam Treloar feel as welcomed as anyone – the two gun on-ballers have clicked on multiple fronts.
Not just from a football perspective, but Treloar’s partner Kim and Dunkley’s sister Lara are now teammates with the Queensland Firebirds.
“When you think about our two different situations… to end up in the same environment, everything happens for a reason,” Dunkley said.
“We’ve really hit it off straight away.
“It’s a coincidence that Kimmy’s up in Queensland with Lara and we’ve got that connection too.
“It’s nice we’ve been able to become good mates already and I’m really excited about the future with him.”