The Western Bulldogs have signed James O'Donnell, the son of former Australian cricketer and St Kilda football player Simon, as a category B rookie for the 2023 season.

Much like his father, O'Donnell has developed into a formidable two-code player, having been listed with Victorian Premier Cricket side Essendon while also training with the Bulldogs' VFL affiliate Footscray.

The 21-year-old is now set to take the path of football through the next phase of his career after training with Footscray through their pre-season.

O'Donnell has been recruited to the Bulldogs' AFL list as a category B rookie, having not been registered with an Australian Rules club for at least three years.

“We've had our eye on James across the year and we're really excited that he's chosen to return to football with the Western Bulldogs,” Bulldogs recruitment manager Dom Milesi said in a club statement.

“James has a really strong athletic profile at 197cm and 88kg, having a significant growth spurt since last playing football, bringing some versatility to our list.

“Everyone is looking forward to welcoming him to the Club and watching him developing in the coming years.”

Rated as a key-position defender, O'Donnell, who stands at 197cm, is expected to begin training with the Bulldogs as early as this week.

The Dogs' newest signing did represent Victoria's under 12s football side as a junior, a team that consisted of new teammate Luke Cleary, who joined the club through the 2021 National Draft.

Having not played football since his school, coupled with his build, O'Donnell is likely to require some time before playing at the top level.

The Bulldogs have recently looked to bolster their backline with new tall talent, acquiring Western Australian key defender Jedd Busslinger through last year's National Draft as their first-round selection.

The Dogs also added Liam Jones to their list, with the former Blue returning to the Kennel as a 31-year-old after a year away from the competition.

O'Donnell's father Simon played 24 games for St Kilda across 1982-1983, booting 18 goals during his time with the Saints. Simon's father Kevin played 49 games for St Kilda through the 1940s.