Western Bulldogs captain Ellie Blackburn says it’s been refreshing to start the 2024 AFLW pre-season with a refreshed team and coaching panel.

Blackburn, who is the club’s games record-holder and contracted until at least the end of 2027, said working with incoming head coach Tam Hyett this pre-season has been great.

“It’s been really good – obviously there’s been a bit of a change-up since last season, with a whole new-look team with a whole new range of players and staff that have come on board, but it’s been really positive to start off with,” Blackburn told SEN 1116 during the club’s mid-season membership blitz.

“(Tam’s) been great – I think our first conversation was about golf given she’s come from a bit of a golfing background herself, so it was fun to have a chat about that, but with her coming in there’s been a lot of fresh ideas.

“She’s pretty firm with us but has already built some really great connections and relationships, that she’s able to challenge us in a really respectful way.


“I really like the way she goes about it, and she’s a lot of fun to be around from a coaching perspective. The way she educates us and is helping us achieve what we need to as a team has been really nice to be part of.”

The Bulldogs welcomed 11 new players through the off-season, through a combination of the trade period and draft.

Blackburn said the way they have all settled into the Kennel so far has been seamless.

“I think all of (our new players) are definitely within a chance (of playing early this season) – they’re all training really well and have integrated themselves really nicely amongst the team,” she said.

“You wouldn’t even know that they are new players just based on the connections that we’ve already been able to build – it looks like we’ve been a team together for quite some time.

“All of the players that we’ve been able to add in have really complemented the team.”


She said while it’s too early to predict how the season will look, she is remaining optimistic about what the team can achieve in 2024. 

“I think we’re relatively optimistic about our list, but we’re also realistic with it all,” Blackburn said.

“There’s a lot of new faces and new coaching staff, so it’s going to take some time for it to work and click in the new game-style, but I think the most promising sign of it all is that everyone’s looking to learn and grow and teach one another as we go along.

“You obviously start out each season wanting to win a premiership – so there’s no denying that you want to achieve that by any means – but it’s probably a bit too early to think about where we’ll land in terms of the pecking order among the competition.

“We get a number of home games on Friday nights at Whitten Oval, and for me that’s probably what I look at the most – having some great clashes there.

“We’re just really excited about the fixture itself and getting some games at Whitten and even Mars as well through our connection with Ballarat there.”

There’s no better way to support your club than with a membership, as the club strives for 60K members for the first time in its history.

As part of the Bulldogs’ mid-season membership blitz, a three-game Bronze membership will be available for just $33. This limited offer will grant those general admission access to three of the Bulldogs’ remaining four home matches at Marvel Stadium.

For more details, visit membership.westernbulldogs.com.au/sen.