West Coast selects Harley Reid with No.1 draft pick.
Harley Reid received a West Coast jumper from club legend Nic Naitanui as the AFL''s top draft pick. Photo: Getty
West Coast has swatted away rival AFL clubs’ offers for the No.1 draft pick, standing firm to take prodigious talent Harley Reid with the top selection.
Coming off five wins across the past two seasons, the Eagles had toyed with the idea of trading the sought-after pick for multiple high-end selections.
North Melbourne, Melbourne and Hawthorn all made bids for the top pick – and access to the highly rated Reid.
But none could tempt West Coast, which flew cult figure Nic Naitanui to Melbourne to present Reid with his new jumper at Marvel Stadium on Monday night.
Naitanui handed over the No.9 West Coast guernsey, which he and fellow Eagles great Ben Cousins wore during their illustrious careers.
“It’s huge,” Reid said.
“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.
“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.”
Reid is arguably the most-hyped draftee in history, viewed by many recruiters as a generational talent.
The 18-year-old midfielder will have instant celebrity status 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.”
Before the draft, Reid was forced to defend himself amid speculation he was less than happy to move outside of Victoria.
But the Eagles are satisfied the young star, who hails from the country town of Tongala in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley region, does not represent a flight risk.
“It (the speculation) 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.”
Reid is the third player taken by West Coast with the No.1 pick at a draft and the first this century.
The Eagles previously picked Drew Banfield (1992) and Michael Gardiner (1996) with the top selection.
Reid was also presented with the inaugural Allen Aylett Medal as the competition’s No.1 draft pick.
The award is named after former North Melbourne champion and VFL president Aylett, who died in September last year.