Dunkley spoke for the first time about the move that would have seen him switch to the Bombers in search of added midfield time.
The 23-year-old will now have to contend with the Bulldogs’ illustrious array of midfield talent as well as new recruit Adam Treloar for a spot in the midfield, a challenge he is ready to accept.
But first, he will need to regain the respect he lost from his teammates in the wake of his trade request.
“In the back of my mind, I knew it was a possibility after coming out and going to Essendon,” Dunkley told reporters, including Fox Sports’ Ben Waterworth.
“But with all respect, the Bulldogs really held onto me and made it a challenge for Essendon to get me.
“I caught up with ‘Bevo’ the other night in Melbourne. Let the dust settle a little bit and then caught up with him. I actually drove out to his place and we had a good chat. I’d spoken to him a lot through the process as well.
“The boys have made me feel really comfortable. It’s nice to be able to go back now and really put my head down and earn that respect, if I have lost any.
“I’m looking forward to what we can do in 2021.”