Main content

18 days to the draft: Josh Dunkley

Draft Trumps: Josh Dunkley The talented playmaker is able to join the Sydney Swans under the father-son rule
GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - JULY 2: Josh Dunkley of Vic Country in action during the 2015 AFL Under 18 match between Vic Country and WA at Simonds Stadium, Geelong, Australia on July 2, 2015. (Photo by Sean Garnsworthy/AFL Media)

JOSH Dunkley's first memories of a football club was stealing lollies from the Sydney Swans' trainers while his father Andrew was out on the SCG.

As the son of the 218-gamer, who was a mainstay in the Swans' defence for more than a decade, Dunkley has grown up in the football world.

After leaving the Swans, Dunkley took his family to Gippsland, where his son has developed as a player in recent seasons in the TAC Cup system.

This year Josh spent more time in Melbourne as he dealt with a back stress fracture, which made it easier for him to use Richmond's facilities to aid his recovery.

Dunkley weighed up all season whether to nominate as a father-son prospect or enter the open the draft in the hope he would stay in Victoria closer to his family. He continues to discuss the option with the Swans, with a final decision required by November 20.

Dunkley is a competitor. He played senior country football as a 15-year-old and doesn't flinch in tough situations. He's at his best as an inside, ball-winning midfielder who can outbody and outmuscle his opponents and pave the way for the outside runners.

Dunkley is also a strong mark overhead and has played forward where he has won one-on-one contests often. He spent this year in a number of different spots, which might not have helped his form, but it did show he was capable of being used in various positions at the next level. 

The 18-year-old is a natural leader who is well liked by his teammates, and he has captained the NAB AFL Academy squad. He's a professional, too. Over summer he trained closely with Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury and knows the elite standards that are waiting for him at an AFL club.

Dunkley hasn't had the season he would have hoped for. After the injury, he jumped around teams, playing for Richmond's VFL side before finishing the year with Gippsland Power in the TAC Cup. He wasn't at any stage able to really break into his best form.

He's not an especially classy user of the ball, which is something he'll need to lift at the next level and something he has worked tirelessly towards. Dunkley isn't overly quick, but he can think through situations well enough to get around that.

This season was a difficult one for Dunkley with his injuries, so clubs will need to be across them. But he's a diligent worker who follows his rehabilitation program closely and precisely.

Dunkley is a little like Adelaide midfielder Scott Thompson. He's physically ready and uses his power at the clearances to win the ball and feed it out. Dunkley's hands are clean at ground level and he can fire the ball out smartly.

Dunkley probably fits in the 20-40 range now after starting the season ranked a little higher. That shouldn't change depending on what he decides to do with the Swans. If he nominates as a father-son and a bid comes, the Swans will have the ability to match it.

One of the harder prospects in the pool to judge because of his limited exposure in 2015. Dunkley has some special qualities which should steer him through an AFL career. Dunkley won't leave anything in his career up to chance and is a dogged, determined worker. With his ball-winning ability he should be able to settle well into senior footy.