Bulldogs’ Josh Dunkley remains upbeat despite latest setback

Josh Dunkley might very well be the unluckiest player in the AFL right now.

After making his return to the field against the Gold Coast Suns last Saturday, having missed a large portion of the season thanks to a shoulder reconstruction, Dunkley will watch his team’s blockbuster match against the Melbourne Demons on Saturday from his couch.

No, it’s not down to any niggling injury or being dropped from the squad by Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge.

Dunkley was sadly forced to quarantine at his home after visiting a local cafe which was later declared as a Tier 1 Covid exposure site.

“I didn't expect it to happen,” Dunkley said.

“Players are always keeping an eye out for certain things, but there hadn’t been Covid where I live around this area for quite a while.

“To be exposed to a Tier 1 exposure site shocked me.

“But to get the text message from the government saying you’ve got to isolate for 14 days was crazy and something I will always remember.”

The 24-year-old midfielder received an outpouring of positivity from family and friends after the unfortunate news, which has helped him get through the first few days of home quarantine.

Dunkley made his return from a shoulder reconstruction last Saturday against the Gold Coast Suns. (Photo by Chris Hyde/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)Source:Getty Images

“I’ve had a lot of phone calls, obviously it’s a different situation to be in so a lot of people have reached out, checking in, wondering if I’m ok and if I need anything dropped off,” Dunkley said.

“I actually had about 260 text messages on Monday, so when everyone found out it was pretty crazy.”

Being stuck at home might have your average person twiddling their thumbs out of sheer and utter boredom. Thankfully, Dunkley isn’t short of things to keep him entertained, especially when he needs to maintain some level of fitness so he can jump back into training without skipping a beat.

“I‘ve got a nice little rack squat, got pretty much all the dumbbells, got a treadmill that the club organised for me, got a watt bike that I’ve had for quite a while,” Dunkley said.

“I’ve also got a swimming pool, one that you swim against the jets and a little basketball court down the back too.

“And a little dog that’s very active so I’ve got to keep him occupied as well.

“It’s a nice little set-up that we’ve got here and just trying to use that to my advantage and come out the other side.”

Dunkley was forced to quarantine at home after visiting a Tier 1 Covid exposure site.(Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)Source:Getty Images

Despite having a home gym set-up that would be the envy of almost every Australian, it doesn’t take away from the midfileder’s frustration of not being able to get a run of games under his belt.

“Initially I was pretty sad,” Dunkley said.

“To come back after being out for 12 weeks and play my first game, I thought I was ok.

“To be out of the team this week and not be able to play is pretty sad and pretty hard for me, but I think I’ve tried to turn it into a positive and use the set-up that I’ve got and hopefully come back on the other side bigger and stronger.”

The Bulldogs’ monster match-up against the Demons represents a major chance for the Footscray outfit to leapfrog their opponents into first place on the ladder.

But should the Bulldogs taste defeat, they might end up in third spot come the end of the weekend if results don’t go their way.

Despite Dunkley forced to the sidelines for his side’s game, he has been a part of the pre-game process for his club just like any other week.

“I’ve spoken to Bevo (Luke Beveridge) a couple of times,” Dunkley said.

“He’s tried to keep me involved quite a bit, and a lot of the boys are reaching out.

“I haven’t been in any meetings as of yet, but I know I’m going to be involved in the next few days in the lead-up to the Melbourne game and then obviously the review next week.”

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