20 June, 2024
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Harley Reid keen to lift West Coast out of AFL doldrums

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AFL No.1 draft pick Harley Reid is determined to make his mark interstate after being selected as the nation’s top young talent by West Coast.

The 18-year-old Victorian midfielder was, as expected, picked first at Marvel Stadium on Monday night as the Eagles swatted away trade bids by rival clubs for the top selection.

Among the unsuccessful bidders, North Melbourne took Tasmanian onballer Colby McKercher (pick two) as the first of their five first-round selections.

Gold Coast matched rival bids on academy talents Jed Walter (pick three) and Ethan Read (nine), Jake Rogers (14) and Will Graham (26).

GWS produced the biggest shock of the first round when they used pick 12 on draft bolter Phoenix Gothard, a small forward from Albury.

Reid, who hails from Tongala in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley region, is arguably the most-hyped draftee in history and viewed by many recruiters as a generational talent.

The teen sensation has been forced to defend himself throughout the year amid speculation he was less than happy to move to the other side of the country.

“It was pretty annoying at times when they say it and they really haven’t even met you,” Reid said.

“It (the Eagles jumper) is on me now, so hopefully that puts a bit of word out there that I’m keen to go over there and get stuck into it.”

 Harley Reid says wearing West Coast’s famous No.9 on his jumper will inspire his AFL journey. Image by Morgan Hancock/AAP PHOTOS 

Reid joins a rebuilding West Coast outfit, which has won just five games over the last two seasons.

He is prepared for the instant celebrity status that will fall on his young shoulders when he lands in football-mad Perth.

“It’s part of the journey I suppose and it’s pretty humbling too, but it’s motivation too to be a superstar and get in there and earn respect off the teammates,” Reid said.

“There’s a great young core group over there and a lot of experience.

“There’s a lot of history behind that club too so I’m keen to get in there and hopefully influence that club and help them get back to the top.”

West Coast flew cult figure Nic Naitanui to Melbourne to present Reid with his new jumper.

Naitanui handed over the No.9 guernsey, which he and fellow Eagles great Ben Cousins wore during their illustrious careers.

“It’s huge. To see the history and what’s behind it and to add to it is something that’s going to motivate me to get to the next level and improve each week,” Reid said.

“It’s something that I’ll remind myself of, what’s on my back. It’s not just a number, it’s got a lot of meaning behind it.”

There was plenty of dealing during the first round as Adelaide traded up to secure Daniel Curtin (pick eight) and Essendon made the same move to get hands on Nate Caddy (10), while Sydney matched Collingwood’s bid for academy prospect Caiden Cleary (pick 24).

The Western Bulldogs and Hawthorn both matched bids on father-son prospects, securing key forward Jordan Croft (son of Matthew, pick 15) and key defender Will McCabe (son of Luke, pick 19) respectively.

Only four clubs did not have a selection in the first round – the Brisbane Lions, Fremantle, Port Adelaide and Richmond.

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