Star midfielder Ellie Blackburn will serve as standalone captain of the Western Bulldogs for a third consecutive AFLW season.
The triple All-Australian and two-time Club Champion first took the reins as solo skipper in 2020, after leading the team to its inaugural AFLW flag in 2018 and co-captaining in 2019.
She was also voted the AFL Players’ Association Best Captain in 2021, and has been part of the Bulldogs’ leadership group since the league’s inception.
“I just love being a Bulldogs person – I’m so passionate about this football club and have so much love and care being here,” Blackburn said.
“To be here for another year and be able to lead the team again is something I’m really proud of. I just love playing for the Western Bulldogs.
“It’s an amazing honour to lead our team and represent our colours.”
Continuing on from last season, Blackburn will again be supported by Brooke Lochland as vice-captain, with Ashleigh Guest, Bailey Hunt, Isabel Huntington, Bonnie Toogood and Kirsty Lamb rounding out the seven-person, player-voted leadership group.
“It’s obviously great to have a consistent leadership group – to have the same girls in there just shows that the calibre of work they are doing and constantly committing to their leadership, is (being seen) by the team, the coaches and staff here,” Blackburn said.
“A lot of comments around our team is that we’re ‘young and exciting’, so that naturally excites someone – knowing that you’ve got plenty of years with this group and that their talent is really raw and exciting.
“This team just has so much energy about them.”
General Manager of Women’s Football, Debbie Lee, said there is no-one better suited to captaining the Bulldogs than Blackburn.
“There’s no doubt ‘Blackers’ is the right person to lead this team – she’s admired and respected by everyone, and is a true professional both on and off the field,” Lee said.
“She genuinely wants the best for her teammates, and will do whatever it takes to help them become the best versions of themselves.
“Having ‘Brooka’ serve as vice-captain once again, and the same members in ‘Guesty’, ‘Bails’, Izzy, Bon and ‘Lamby’ make up our leadership group, will provide a good opportunity to extend on the terrific work invested last season.
“The group is a great blend of personalities, which provides a suite of different lenses to represent the playing group.”