“Those cracks started to form within the group and I wasn’t as happy as what I thought I’d be within the environment.”
Speaking on Wednesday ahead of the Bulldogs’ annual pride game against Carlton, Blackburn said she saw no evidence of what Birch suggested.
“Libby is valid [entitled] to her own opinion,” Blackburn said.
“So be it. She has obviously left the club and is enjoying football at Melbourne. It’s part of the game. Players are going to leave and players are going to make comments about their old club.
“I can gurantee you there is no cracks in our playing group. If anything the thing I love most about our football club at the moment I look around the room and all 29 of us absolutely love playing for the Western Bulldogs.
“No cracks and we absolutely love being a part of this football club.”
The Bulldogs and Blues go into Saturday’s Pride Match both with one win and one loss at fifth and fourth in conference B.
“You almost play every game like you’re in a knockout finals series,” Blackburn said. “Conference B has turned out to be, after the first two rounds, a strong one.
“It’s tough but you want to win every game regardless.”
Vescio said: “It is a pretty important game. You want to be able to get those early wins in as well just to give you confidence heading into the later part of the season. Every game there is so much pressure.”
St Kilda will host Melbourne on Friday night at Moorabbin at another pride game.
Saints midfielder Tilly Lucas-Rodd said it was exciting St Kilda’s women could have a game celebrating the gay and transgender community in the same way the men’s side had in the past five years.
“It’s significant. Obviously I am gay and growing up I didn’t have a role model I could try to be like so it’s really important we are visible,” Lucas-Rodd said.
“It has been a step up [being a new team in the AFLW] … hopefully we can keep building on our performances so far.”
Melbourne’s Aleisha Newman said her team was full of confidence following their perfect and impressive start to 2020.
“Confidence is always key,” Newman said. “We haven’t had the best starts in the last couple of years so we have got off to a really good start and the group is really gelling this year.”
Anthony is a sports reporter at The Age.