Harley Reid's message to Dustin Martin as Ben Cousins detail emerges at AFL draft

The West Coast Eagles resisted the urge to trade their No.1 selection.

Harley Reid, Dustin Martin and Ben Cousins.
Harley Reid (L) will wear the same jumper number that Ben Cousins (R) wore at West Coast and is eager to test his stiff-arm on Dustin Martin (centre). Image: Getty

Harley Reid is eager to see how his vaunted fend-off matches up against the famed stiff-arm of Richmond superstar Dustin Martin. The 18-year-old from Victoria was selected by the West Coast Eagles on Monday night as the No.1 overall pick in the AFL draft.

He was presented with his guernsey by recently retired Eagles favourite Nic Naitanui - who handed over the No.9 jumper that both he and Ben Cousins wore during their careers with West Coast. Reid, who hails from Tongala in Victoria's Goulburn Valley region, is arguably the most-hyped draftee in AFL history and is viewed by many recruiters as a generational talent.

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He is renowned for his ability to stiff-arm defenders - the same move that Tigers talisman Martin frequently uses. Reid said he isn't sure how his fend-off compares to Martin's, but he's keen to find out.

"I don't know, I'll have to test it out on him," Reid said. "He's had that trademark and I've obviously looked at him and seen him do that and looked up to him. That's something that he does real well and hopefully I can implement that in my game at the highest level too."

The 18-year-old is expected to provide immediate help to West Coast after two seasons in which they've recorded just five wins. "There's not too much expectation from me," Reid said. "It's more get in there and learn the system and get introduced to how it is.

"Hopefully a few senior boys take me under their wing and teach me the ways. I'm not going to have a huge impact straight up. I'll just try to go through and play my best footy really."

The midfielder has been forced to deny constant speculation he was reluctant to move away from Victoria. "It was pretty annoying at times when they say it and they really haven't even met you," he 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 with Nic Naitanui and the No.9 jumper.
Harley Reid will wear the No.9 jumper that Nic Naitanui and Ben Cousins donned at West Coast. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

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Reid became the third player in history to be taken No.1 by West Coast, joining Drew Banfield in 1992 and Michael Gardiner in 1996. The Eagles received a number of trade offers from rival clubs for the No.1 pick, but list manager Rohan O'Brien said it would have taken an "extraordinary" deal for them to pass up the opportunity to select Reid.

North Melbourne offered pick three and two later first-round selections, while the Melbourne Demons offered picks six, 11 and a future first-rounder. "When you weight that up around the trades that get done in trade period, they're really good offers, but we decided to stick with the player," O'Brien said.

"For a lot of players you'd have to really consider them, and we did consider them, but pick one doesn't come along very often. We think Harley's a player that's a little bit unique ... so whilst we thought about it, we were happy to stick with him."

The 2023 first-round draft picks.
The 2023 first-round draft picks at Marvel Stadium. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Reid said he is prepared for the instant celebrity status that come with playing 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," he 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."

with AAP

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