MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 11: Jack Gunston of the Hawks celebrates a goal during the 2018 AFL round 21 match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Geelong Cats at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on August 11, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

The Western Bulldogs are searching for answers after bowing out at the elimination final stage once again on the weekend.

After trailing by as much as 26 points, the Dogs brought it back to less than a kick, but it wasn’t enough as they went down to the Saints by three points.

Of all areas in need of improvement, much has been made of the Dogs’ dysfunctional forward line, especially Josh Bruce’s struggles after joining the club last season.

Bruce kicked 13 goals from 16 games in 2020, with six of those coming against the lowly Kangaroos. Meanwhile, promising youngster Aaron Naughton only played 11 games, kicking 14 goals.

If the Dogs are to return to the trade table to bolster their forward line, one ideal name stands out, according to AFL Media’s Riley Beveridge.

“I think they should target Jack Gunston,” Beveridge said on the AFL Exchange podcast.

“I think he fits their needs perfectly, in the sense that he can give Jamarra (Ugle-Hagen) two to three years to develop under his tutelage, if he plays in a forward role.”

“Or, if they need an interceptor, I think he’s proven he’s a capable interceptor when he does go back for Hawthorn. So he can do both roles, and we know Luke Beveridge is a coach who likes to plug and play.”

“I think he’s someone that Luke Beveridge can move either end of the ground, wherever he sees fit.”

Gunston has had a stellar year in a struggling side, booting 31 goals to finish fourth in the Coleman Medal race.

The 28-year old  scooped the Hawks’ Best and Fairest – the Peter Crimmins Medal – tallying 102 votes and was also named in the extended 40-man All-Australian squad.

Gunston has been linked with a move away from the Hawks, as the prospect of a rebuild of the club’s list gathers momentum. Most recently, Collingwood has been floated as a keen suitor, with the Pies’ list manager Ned Guy once serving as Gunston’s agent.

However, Gunston won’t ask for a move, but would consider it if the club came to him regarding a trade, according to Fox Sports.

If the Dogs were to enter the race for Gunston’s services, they could call on Luke Beveridge’s previous relationship with the Hawks and Gunston. He served as an assistant coach at the club from 2012 to 2014.

Luke Beveridge flagged immediately after their elimination final loss that they would be aggressive in the off-season.

“We won’t be idle,” the Bulldogs coach said.

“Some of the areas that we got touched up in tonight were because we didn’t have the role players to really see it through at different times throughout the course of the night.

“Our boys will learn a lesson or two, but we’ll still be looking at what the possibilities are and whether there’s an acquisition in trade that would really help us and give us some depth as well as put some pressure on for spots and performance.

“Our team will change significantly. By the time we play Round 1 there’s probably going to be six different players in this team.”

Could one of those new names be Gunston?