AFTER a year ruined by injury, Josh Dunkley is seeking some of the good fortune that saw him become a premiership player in his debut season.
The 20-year-old was lucky enough to be a part of the Bulldogs' 2016 flag triumph just 10 months after being drafted, but since then ankle and shoulder reconstructions have seen the midfielder spend long periods in the rehab group.
Those injuries saw Dunkley play just seven senior games this year, but they gave him perspective and drive to make his own luck in 2018.
"I've seen the best and worst of footy, so hopefully there's a bit more luck coming back my way," Dunkley told AFL.com.au.
"It was pretty traumatic doing my shoulder last year, even though I ended up getting back towards the end of the season.
"But I've come back refreshed, fit and healthy and really excited about what the future holds."
Dunkley used his time on the sidelines wisely, conditioning his developing body in the gym and working on his skills.
Poor ball use plagued the Dogs on a regular basis this season, with coach Luke Beveridge vowing to inject some more skill into his side so all the hard work in the clinches didn't go to waste.
"It's definitely a focus for us because on day one of pre-season we had the footballs out practising kicking and set shots," Dunkley said.
"I worked a lot with Rohan Smith on my kicking and skill execution this year, and that was something that took my mind off being injured.
"I sat down with Joel Corey and watched a fair bit of vision to learn more about the game.
"We're looking to improve every part of my game."
After a disappointing flag defence, Dunkley says the slate was clean at Whitten Oval, with strong competition for spots driving a resolve for the players to redeem themselves.
As a third-year player, he is eyeing more time in a midfield group that has ample inside ball winners including Marcus Bontempelli, Tom Liberatore, Mitch Wallis, Toby McLean and Lin Jong.
"I have spoken to the coaches about my goals, so hopefully I can play in the midfield a bit more and take a few marks when I go forward," Dunkley said.
"Since I've been at the club there's always been that competition for spots, and that was a big driving force in the premiership year.
"Competition amongst players drives the standards a lot."
Dunkley recently bore witness on his off-season adventures to English Premier League star Wayne Rooney's return to Manchester United in the England soccer star's second stint at Everton.
The atmosphere at Old Trafford that day sent shivers down Dunkley's spine.
"I went the day before the game and did a guided tour that showed me some pretty amazing things at such a proud club," Dunkley said.
"It was great to see how another sport goes about its business."