Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge says Josh Dunkley’s trade request came as a “huge surprise” to the entire club.
Dunkley, who has two years to run on his Bulldogs contract, had his heart set on a move to Essendon only for the deal to fall through on the final day of the trade period.
Beveridge has sat down with Dunkley since his failed trade to the Bombers in a bid to clear the air before the start of the 2021 pre-season.
“It was a surprise and when Dunks and I caught up last week, I talked to him about the two sides of it,” Beveridge told SEN Breakfast.
“Josh and I are very close, I’ve spent a lot of time with him talking about life as much as footy. I feel like I’ve spent more time than most of our players talking to him about key aspects of his game.
“There’s a personal connection between him and I. I had to contain my emotions and try to put it in some sort of perspective.
“We’ve invested a lot in Josh over the last five years, he’s blossomed as a player, he’s definitely applied himself, he’s a professional but our program has really helped him get to where he’s got to.
“For all the different reasons and the weight of the reasons as to why he might consider the move to another club, my discussion with him was that it doesn’t matter, all that matters to me and to our club is that he’s with us.
“If there’s any tension there, then we need to discuss it, but he reassured me that things are fine. It was a huge surprise for all of us.
“We look forward to him being a key contributor next year.”
Dunkley, 23, has played 78 games for the Bulldogs and was part of the club’s drought-breaking 2016 premiership.