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Ball magnet Blackburn set to shine in All-Stars match

Bruce Matthews  August 31, 2016 11:03 AM

Blackburn: 'It's the best news I've ever had' Meet Western Bulldogs' women's team marquee midfielder Ellie Blackburn and learn about her pathway through football, life away from the football field, and what becoming a Bulldog means to her.

AS A young girl draped in St Kilda colours, Ellie Blackburn was drawn to the ball-winning prowess of Robert Harvey and later, Lenny Hayes.

There was something magical about the Saints' playmakers when she watched them, sitting next to her grandmother in the grandstand.

A prolific possession-winner and thumping kick, Blackburn has followed those heroes' lead by regularly topping the stats sheets with VFL women's team Melbourne University and AFL exhibition games with Melbourne for the past four years.

PLAYER PROFILE: Click here to view Ellie Blackburn's player profile.

"I've been a St Kilda member for about 13 years. I watched them growing up and I would go with my nana. But with my own footy and work now, it's hard to find the time to get to games. But I still love to watch them play," she said.

"Robert Harvey, Lenny Hayes and someone like Maverick Weller now are great examples for me and I try to get something out of the way they play."

Blackburn is among the players to watch in Saturday night’s AFL women’s All-Stars match at Whitten Oval.

Her ability to win the ball in the close contests was an outstanding asset in junior ranks. Already a four-time All Australian, Blackburn has continued to hone those hunting instincts, with plenty of scope for improvement and development at such a young age.

The Western Bulldogs snapped up the 21-year-old as a marquee selection to build their player list around the talented midfielder and Queensland-born forward Katie Brennan.

"I try to get as much of the ball as I can to help out my team and, hopefully, impact the game in a positive way. (I play) predominantly as an inside-mid and every now and then I get to rotate up forward," she said.

"I definitely love to take a close look at Geelong’s Patrick Dangerfield and the way he goes about it. He can win his own ball. He can get it on the outside and really create a lot of plays moving the ball forward. And he's involved in a lot of contests, which is what I like to be part of as well.

"I'm probably the fittest I've been in a long time and I'm trying to play consistently. I've learned a lot over the year and that has helped develop my game."

Blackburn said the Bulldogs had embraced Brennan and herself during visits to the club’s Whitten Oval headquarters between local club commitments, and she's eager to pull on the Doggies' jumper after playing for the Demons in exhibition games since 2013.

"It will certainly be a change, but I'm looking forward to being part of the Bulldogs. It’s a new beginning," she said.

So, is there the danger of a split-second memory lapse that might see her hit a red and blue target during the game?

"If I do, hopefully, I can make it look like it was a miskick," she said with a laugh.