Child legends lead Collingwood and Bulldogs to the field

COLLINGWOOD and the Western Bulldogs face the prospect of being overshadowed by their mascots in tomorrow's battle for the Robert Rose Cup at Etihad Stadium.

The Magpies will be led out for the game by 13-year-old fan Zach Stephens who etched his place in club folklore by refusing to let paramedics cut off his beloved black-and-white jumper after being hit by a car while crossing the road almost three years ago.

The Bulldogs players will run out behind nine-year-old Venice Kowalczyk who lost both her feet and her left hand after medical experts missed an early diagnosis of meningococcal disease at just nine months. The mad Doggies fan has not let the setback stop her from embracing an active life - she is a keen swimmer and also plays basketball.

Robert Rose is the son of Collingwood legend Bob Rose. Robert played for both the Magpies and the Bulldogs before a car crash left him a quadriplegic at 22.

The match will be used to highlight the issue of inclusion and equality for people with a disability.

The Bulldogs have regained skipper Matthew Boyd and Brownlow Medallist Adam Cooney.