Departing Dog claims awkward B&F, Gunston Brisbane bound, more drama amid Hawks’ racism allegations

Outgoing Western Bulldogs midfielder Josh Dunkley has farewelled the club by claiming their 2022 best and fairest award.

The 25-year old recently announced his desire to be traded to Brisbane, amid rumors of a cultural rift at the Bulldogs.

Dunkley claimed his maiden Charles Sutton Medal with 231 votes, narrowly ahead of runner-up Tom Liberatore (211), whose absence in the Dogs’ final elimination loss to Fremantle proved crucial.

Coach Luke Beveridge quipped while announcing Dunkley’s win that the Lions would now need to ‘pony up’ to bring in the star inside bull.

“It’s a real shame,” Beveridge said of his impending departure.

“I describe Josh as the glue in our team. He does all the hard team things unconditionally and we’re going to need more of that from his former teammates next year.

“He’s a real diamond that we discovered and pinched from under Sydney’s nose all those years ago.

“It’s difficult to come up and match market value when you’ve got to spread the financial load across your whole group. That’s part of it, but Josh has also made a life decision on where he sees his future from him and where he’s going to live and what it means to him at this point in time, and we respect that.

“The obvious thing is that the Lions are going to have to pony up!”

Dunkley, who played 116 games for the Dogs since making his debut in Round 1 of 2016, including the club’s drought-breaking premiership win in his first season, said there was ‘no bad blood’ between him and the team.

“This year has been the best year out of all of them,” Dunkley said.

“It was a good step in the right direction after the Grand Final, so there is no bad blood.

“Bevo was really good to speak to on the phone. We have had a great relationship from day one and before I was drafted he spoke to me about how much I can be a role model and leader, so Bevo has been great for me and he’s like a father figure.

“I said to Bevo it was more of a lifestyle choice. He backed it in and said he completely understood the long-term deal was appealing.”

Any trade between the Bulldogs and Lions is expected to be complicated by the latter’s looming bid for father-son star Will Ashcroft, which could require the Lions to find the draft points to match a Pick 1 bid.

Gunston turns back on Hawks to head to Lions

Hawthorn triple-premiership star Jack Gunston will finish his career in maroon, blue and gold, having reportedly snubbed a two-year offer to remain at the Hawks to head to Brisbane.

Gunston, who kicked 32 goals in 16 games in 2022 after managing just one in an injury-riddled 2021, becomes the third member of the Hawks’ dynasty to finish up at the Lions, following Luke Hodge and Grant Birchall.

The 30-year old has described the shift as a ‘change of lifestyle’, while the lure of finishing with a fourth premiership, in a similar vein to former Hawks teammate Isaac Smith at Geelong, also appeals.

“Jack has been an incredible servant during his 11 seasons here at Hawthorn,” Hawks football manager Rob McCartney said in a statement.

“He leaves the club as a three-time premiership player and a best and fairest winner, but more importantly, a person who is genuinely respected and loved by his teammates, staff and our Hawthorn fans.

“The Gunston family will always be part of the Hawthorn fabric and we thank them for contribution they have made to the brown and gold.”

Gunston is an unrestricted free agent, meaning the Hawks are unable to retain him or force a trade by matching the Lions’ bid. The deal is thus expected to be completed in the early days of the trade and free agency period, which starts on Friday.

Jack Gunston of the Hawks celebrates a goal

(Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

‘Geenuine despair’ from former Hawthorn players over racism investigation: Wilson

Football journalist Caroline Wilson has reported the former Hawthorn players alleging the mistreatment of First Nations players at the club are unsatisfied with the AFL’s launching of an investigation into their claims.

speaking on SENWilson reported that the anonymous players, who gave evidence into the Hawks’ internal review and then spoke with ABC journalist Russell Jackson in bombshell allegations last week, were reluctant to give evidence to the AFL investigation.

According to her, the players and legal representation Leon Zwier want an ‘independent judicial inquiry’, rather than an AFL-commissioned one.

“That’s why it’s such a mess, because these people gave their evidence, are unwilling to do so again in an environment they don’t trust,” Wilson said.

Wilson went on to claim that a key reason for the players’ stance is the presence of former Hawks president Andrew Newbold as an AFL commissioner.

“Rightly or wrongly, they say that Andrew Newbold, who read his denials today, was an AFL commissioner, and the AFL have to be conflicted investigating one of their own,” Wilson said.

The stand-off looks set to delay or even destroy the allegations of racism against then-Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson and assistant Chris Fagan, now senior coaches at North Melbourne and Brisbane.

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