THE WESTERN Bulldogs are in danger of stunting the progression of gun onballer Josh Dunkley, according Port Adelaide premiership midfielder Kane Cornes.

Luke Beveridge – who has struggled to embrace the ruck position during his time as Bulldogs coach – has recently made the decision to throw Dunkley into the ruck.

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Dunkley is 190cm and 90kg. He had just one hitout last week during the Dogs' 28-point win over Melbourne (the Bulldogs had 13 in total, Melbourne – sans the 208cm ruck expert Max Gawn – had 42).

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"It would stifle his development, I reckon," Cornes told AFL.com.au.

"But credit to him for putting his hand up because of how taxing it is."

Beveridge has also used key forward Josh Bruce (five hitouts against Melbourne) in the ruck and Cornes believes this an area rivals will eventually exploit.  

"I think opposition teams haven't quite made the most out of Josh Bruce in the ruck," Cornes said.

"The advantage Melbourne had on the weekend, they should have dominated out of the centre bounce.

"I think that opposition teams need to make the most of the centre bounce because it's an easier way to score …"

Bruce has shown he's been out of touch badly, so trying to keep him in the side with another role to play probably isn't a bad option.

- Kane Cornes

The Bulldogs have effectively conceded the ruck battle in the last two games but this has allowed Dunkley to tackle the opposing ruckman straight away (a tactic that has produced some scoring punch).

"They (the Bulldogs) kicked 11 stoppages goals against Adelaide the week before and won the stoppages by 25," Cornes said.

Beveridge threw ruckman Tim English into the forward line for most of the second half against Melbourne , leaving Bruce to take the centre bounces and midfielder Dunkley to battle 206cm Demon Braydon Preuss around the ground.

Ruck contests attended

Round 11 v Brisbane

Round 12 v Adelaide

Round 13 v Melbourne

Tim English

73

39

23

Josh Dunkley

2

30

24

Josh Bruce

5

Did not play

17


Despite Preuss' clear height advantage, the Bulldogs finished with just two fewer clearances for the game.

Bruce has been held goalless in six of his 12 games so far this season, but the Dogs kicked eight of their 12 goals in the second half against Melbourne, coinciding with Bruce's ruck switch.

"Whether Josh Bruce holds his spot - I'm not sure he can, but he is handy as almost a sacrifice as the centre-bounce ruckman," Cornes said.

"Bruce has shown he's been out of touch badly, so trying to keep him in the side with another role to play probably isn't a bad option."

After a breakout season as a star midfielder in 2019, Dunkley has sacrificed some of his own game to help his side and even attended the most ruck contests of any Bulldog in round 13.

The Dogs play Geelong, West Coast, Hawthorn and Fremantle in the coming weeks.

Dunkley would give away 20kgs and 12cm to West Coast's in-form ruck star Nic Naitanui.