Lion Dunkley’s motivation as wounded Tigers head north

Murray Wenzel |

Josh Dunkley will celebrate a special milestone this weekend but he has a bigger goal in mind.
Josh Dunkley will celebrate a special milestone this weekend but he has a bigger goal in mind.

There is a bigger number in mind for Josh Dunkley ahead of his 150th AFL game this weekend.

The Brisbane Lions midfielder revealed it was just an “in-between” milestone, with the long-term focus being eclipsing his father Andrew’s mark.

The team-first talent takes the field on Saturday at the Gabba against the injury-hit Richmond, two seasons since securing a trade from the Western Bulldogs.

He admits it’s a moment to remember a career of highs, lows and near-misses, but jokes he can never really celebrate until he passes his dad.

“It feels like an in-between milestone, but it does make you reflect,” Dunkley, who has won and lost a grand final, said on Friday.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t chasing down my old man’s 217 games … hopefully I get him.

“Back surgery on Monday, so he’s a bit laid up, still in hospital … I’m sure he’ll be watching, so shout-out to him.”

Andrew Dunkley played for Sydney between 1992-2002, with his son’s first taste of AFL coming as a child stealing lollies off the Swans’ trainers while his dad was running around at the SCG.

Dunkley’s father won’t make it to the Gabba on Saturday, although plenty of other family and friends will be on hand as the Lions resume their season rescue mission.

Last year’s grand finalists are 13th with three wins and a draw from nine games, a big defeat of Gold Coast a fortnight ago followed by a rare splitting of the points against Adelaide on Sunday.

Richmond (1-8) are only ahead of the winless North Melbourne and will head north with a long injury list, something the Lions can relate to.

“It’s not where we’d like to be at the moment, but I’m a believer that everything happens for a reason,” Dunkley said of the Lions’ season and a casualty ward that includes five men in various stages of recovery from long-term knee injuries.

“We’re learning a lot from these experiences, hopefully that holds us in good stead.”

Noah Answerth will return after he was concussed against the Suns while Steely Green will debut for Richmond as one of four injury-enforced changes.

“They’ve still got a lot of premiership players in the team so we’ll be attacking the game like we have every week and expecting their best,” Dunkley said.

“Because they’ll be coming up trying to take a scalp, like every team has this year.

“It’s the same as us; you just expect the next soldier to come in and step up.”

AAP