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  1. #1
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    How American training block helped Western Bulldogs young gun Josh Dunkley become a ball magnet

    How American training block helped Western Bulldogs young gun Josh Dunkley become a ball magnet



    Josh Dunkley’s numbers are off the charts right now.
    But before he became the AFL’s newest ball magnet, the young pup laid the foundations for his rapid rise on the west coast of America during a two-week training block with Marcus Bontempelli.

    It was there, inside Nike Headquarters in Portland and at the University of California in San Diego, where Dunkley lit the fuse for his breakout season.

    “We went over there with our eyes open and wanted to broaden our horizons a little bit with what we could achieve. We came back thinking sky is the limit,” Dunkley told foxsports.com.au.

    There is much more to Dunkley’s progression than one off-season expedition to the other side of the world, but he is starting to reap the rewards for his dedication.

    Dunkley has averaged the second-most disposals (33), the second-most contested possessions (16.6), the fourth-most tackles (7.3) the ninth-most tackles (7) and the thirteenth-most clearances (6.5) in the AFL since Round 7.

    After splitting his time evenly between the midfield and inside 50 in the first six games, Luke Beveridge has let Dunkley off the leash in the past three months.

    The 22-year-old has amassed at least 35 disposals in six of his past 11 games and 15 or more contested possessions nine times in the same stretch.

    They are the sort of numbers that will see him finish high in the Charles Sutton Medal, perhaps even challenge Bontempelli, Caleb Daniel and Jack Macrae for the best and fairest.

    Dunkley has been building to this point since he walked in the door at the end of 2015.

    He played as a permanent forward in a premiership in his first year, missed most of 2017 due to a shoulder reconstruction, before finishing fifth in the best and fairest last year.

    This year he has established himself as a full-time midfielder inside the Western Bulldogs’ impressive engine room, forcing more senior players into the role he was playing earlier in the season, as well as filling the void left by Mitch Wallis and Tom Liberatore when they were injured.

    “It has been a little progression. I’ve been waiting behind the scenes for the opportunity. To get that when we got a few injuries has been nice, but now it is about building on that,” Dunkley said after collecting 38 disposals and 19 contested possessions on Sunday.

    Geelong great Joel Corey has worked closely with Dunkley as the Bulldogs’ stoppages coach since the Swans chose not to match the bid for the son of Sydney full back Andrew Dunkley.

    The three-time premiership Cat says there is no secret behind Dunkley’s rise over the past 18 months.

    “Josh has been working hard on his game since the first day he walked in the door. He has played some good footy all the way along, but now he is really being rewarded for his hard work. The work he puts in is allowing him to improve at the rate that he is,” Corey told foxsports.com.au.

    “Everything that you need to do as an AFL footballer he does it with an attention to detail that some don’t. He is good at not just trying to improve his strengths but also his weaknesses too.”

    When the Western Bulldogs’ 2018 season finished before September arrived for the second straight year, Dunkley and Bontempelli made the decision to explore alternative ways to improve.

    That led them to the United States.

    “The first week was mainly flexibility and range of motion, more of an NFL style type of coach who had trained a lot of NFL players. We don’t do stuff like that, so that’s what we wanted to do,” Dunkley said.

    “The week in San Diego was quite impressive. At the time we were sore and sorry, but learnt so much from that experience. We had something every morning and afternoon.

    “I definitely came back with some confidence after thinking I knew what I was capable of, I came back with a better idea of how fit I can be. That carries on into your footy.”

    Bontempelli took Dunkley under his wing when he first landed at Whitten Oval after being taken at Pick 25 in the 2015 National Draft.

    It didn’t take long for the two-time best and fairest winner to go from someone Dunkley watched on TV, to someone who is now one of his best mates.

    “After watching him growing up on TV in the two years before I was drafted, he was already one of the stars of the competition at a really young age. He took me under his wing when I got here,” he said.

    “It is great to have ‘Bonty’ as one of my good mates. It is good that we have that connection and continue to drive each other to improve. I’m forever grateful that I’ve got that relationship.”

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  3. #2
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    Re: How American training block helped Western Bulldogs young gun Josh Dunkley become a ball magnet

    The article doesn't mention Crozier was also on the trip.
    Premierships: AFL 1954, 2016 VFA - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, VFL: 2014, 2016 . Champions of Victoria 1924. AFLW - 2018.

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    Re: How American training block helped Western Bulldogs young gun Josh Dunkley become a ball magnet

    Quote Originally Posted by bornadog View Post
    The article doesn't mention Crozier was also on the trip.
    He was in the US with them but perhaps he didn't do the training portion referred to in the article with Bont & Josh?

    Regardless all 3 are having a great year so perhaps we need to send the whole team over there this off season.

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