‘Happy’ Bulldog provides contract update

Josh Dunkley has given the strongest hint yet that he plans to pledge his future to the Western Bulldogs – and it all depends on how happy he is.

Dunkley’s failed swap bid to Essendon two years ago is now a distant memory, with the 25-year-old midfielder falling in love with being a Bulldog all over again.

He is one of a group of star dogs out of contract this year, including Bailey Smith, Tim English and free agents Jack Macrae, Caleb Daniel and Bailey Dale.

Conversations are ongoing over Dunkley’s future and he hasn’t gone as far as Macrae, who said just weeks ago that he wanted to ‘retire as a Western Bulldogs player’.

But Dunkley’s bromance with former Magpie Adam Treloar has helped transform his thinking, saying his contract situation has “definitely” changed over the past two years.

“I think it’s obvious. You watch me here and around the football club; everyone really hugged me and it was really positive,” he said.

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Josh Dunkley and Adam Treloar have formed a close bond. Photo: Michael KleinSource: News Corp Australia

“I’m just happy. I’ve always been happy – it’s never been a problem with that – but that’s probably more just the way I’ve been at the footy club and they really embraced me. .

“(It’s) the main thing and I’m part of it, which is good.”

Treloar’s messy trade from Collingwood to the kennel has paid off on the pitch for the Bulldogs and potentially helping retain Dunkley would be an unexpected bonus.

“Adzy has been really good to me,” he said.

“With the way things went last year, and being all together now; everything happens for a reason – I’m a big believer in that.

The Bulldogs lost a close practice game against Essendon on Wednesday and will complete their preparations for their first round rematch with Melbourne against Brisbane next Friday night.

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Josh Dunkley is one of several big-name Bulldogs out of contract at the end of the season. Photo: Michael KleinSource: News Corp Australia

Bailey Smith (groin) and Alex Keath (back) are set to return for the Lions clash, but Tim O’Brien (hamstring) is a doubt for the season opener.

Dunkley, captain Marcus Bontempelli and coach Luke Beveridge all stressed on Saturday the need for the Dogs to improve their connection between midfield and their forwards.

Preseason star Ed Richards, the 16th pick in the 2017 draft, will be looking to complete his bid for Round 1 selection of the Community Series.

“Ed had shoulder surgery late last year so he came back in really good shape and did everything he could,” Dunkley said.

“He probably didn’t have the continuity he wanted last year and this pre-season has been very strong for him.

“He’s really exciting for us and obviously loses ‘Woody’ (Easton Wood); we have to find another defender.

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