MELBOURNE’S pre-season has gone to another level in 2020, but Kyle Dunkley was ready for it.
The 19-year-old, who was recruited to the Dees via the Mid-Season Rookie Draft last year, went on a training trip to America over the off-season; one which paid dividends.
“It was amazing, it was the biggest learning I’ve ever had to do with my body and myself,” Dunkley told Melbourne Media.
“We ran every day for a week straight and it was just a different kind of running.
“Knowing now, after getting through that and completing that, I’m ready to take on anything and it’s given me a lot more confidence for training and games.”
Dunkley, whose trip overseas in October came off his own bat, trained with his brother Josh and Bulldogs star Marcus Bontempelli in elite facilities with some experts that helped his preparations for the pre-season.
“We were in San Diego with beautiful weather, it’s a beautiful place, and we got to train there under a guy who was an ex-USA Olympic running coach,” he said.
“Before we got there, he had studied the game of AFL, so he knew everything about it.
“We were doing things like handstand push-ups with our feet up against the wall.
“He was saying that if you go up for a mark, or you go up to spoil the ball and you’ve got to land awkwardly and put your arm out straight on the grass, your shoulder’s not going to be strong just by doing normal push-ups or bench presses.
“So even just to get a different perspective on it all was pretty cool.”
After returning to the club, Dunkley found himself in pristine condition, looking fitter than ever before.
“I’m feeling really good,” he said.
“Going from running every day to coming back, going straight into pre-season but having a day off here and there, or a half day, that’s helped me recover so much easier.
“I feel like now I’m trying to do little extra exercises here and there to try and stay ahead, because I feel like from what I did in America I had a bit of an edge on everyone else.”
The versatile midfielder continued his hard work over the Christmas break while spending two weeks in Noosa with his family.
“It was good to be able to go up there and train with Josh – do gym and kick the ball with him,” he said.
“Obviously we had different running programs, but to get a taste of hot weather, and we’re about to head up to Maroochydore in a few weeks, so it was good to be able to get used to it before we get up there.”
Dunkley’s efforts away from the club to date have set him up for a big 2020 campaign, and after playing five games in his debut season, he’s well poised to become a regular contributor for the Demons.