Star midfielder Ellie Blackburn will lead the Western Bulldogs in 2020.
The 24-year-old premiership captain will take on the role in a standalone capacity this season, after sharing the responsibility last year.
Blackburn will be supported by Brooke Lochland, who has been elevated to the vice-captaincy.
Experienced defender Lauren Spark has been added to the six-player leadership group, joining Izzy Huntington, Kirsty Lamb and Hannah Scott.
Blackburn said she was thrilled to have the support of her peers, following a player vote this week to determine the team’s leaders.
“I’m really excited and extremely proud to be named captain again, particularly considering it is not only voted on by our entire player group, but also following new criteria implemented by Nathan,” Blackburn said.
“From the outset, Nathan has been very honest with me and the entire player group regarding what he values most in regard to certain values and behaviours, and I’ve since put a lot of time and effort into my leadership and personal growth. I am very appreciative of Nathan and my teammates guidance, and I now can’t wait to get stuck into the season with our new group.
“I’ve been with the Western Bulldogs since our AFL Women’s team’s inception, and it not only holds a special place in my heart, but also a place I absolutely love being a part of.
“I wear our colours really proudly every time I get to represent our football club.”
Blackburn has established herself as one of the AFLW competition’s premier players over the past three seasons, winning the Bulldogs’ best and fairest in 2017 and earning All Australian selection in 2017 and 2018.
Senior coach Nathan Burke said he was proud to see the leadership group, led by Blackburn, rewarded for their pre-season efforts.
“We’re extremely excited about the six players leading us into 2020 and the calibre of leaders not just within that group, but across our entire playing list,” Burke said.
“When Ellie and I sat down at the start of the pre-season to discuss the captaincy process, I was very honest with her and told her I’d be re-setting our leadership criteria, including throwing it open again to the group.
“We wanted the captain to be the player who best lives and drives certain values and behaviours, and she has not only responded and risen to the challenge, but also provided great support and guidance to our players. In particular our young and emerging players.
“By the end of the process it was pretty much unanimous that the players wanted Ellie to be their captain. It’s due reward for an outstanding pre-season.”
Burke also acknowledged Lochland, for taking her leadership to a new level this pre-season.
“Brooke has been a leader by example and over this pre-season we’ve also seen her come out of her shell,” he said.
“The relationships she’s built with other players, her knowledge of football, and even sharing what it takes to be an elite performer – everyone around Brooke is now benefitting from that and this is great reward for her.”