Nic Naitanui was in Melbourne on Monday night to present West Coast Eagles No.1 draft pick Harley Reid with his guernsey, amid some wonderful family news for the AFL hero. Naitanui and partner Brittney Brown revealed over the weekend that they'd welcomed their second child into the world - a baby girl called Zuri Ateca.
The couple shared a photo of their family of four on social media with the caption “matavuvale”, which is Fijian for ‘family’. Naitanui and Brown also have a son named Ezekiel.
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Brown, who is a popular wellness columnist in Western Australia, revealed she learned the news of her pregnancy when she started experiencing dizzy spells while exercising. “My body was still recovering from carrying Ezekiel, and I was just getting the hang of being a mum,” she wrote. “I went downstairs to tell Nic (that I was pregnant) and when he saw my tear-streaked face, he panicked, thinking I had received bad news. Tearfully, I blurted out, ‘I’ve got to tell you something - I’m pregnant again’. Thankfully, his reaction was relief; he was rather happy.”
The news about Zuri's birth sparked a flood of congratulatory messages on social media. Chris Judd's wife Bec sent her well-wishes, as did Mark LeCras' wife Emily. GWS star Stephen Coniglio and former Port, Richmond and Melbourne player David Rodan also sent messages. “Congratulations! Bula lewa Zuri,” Rodan said, which means “welcome baby girl” in Fijian.
West Coast pick Harley Reid first in AFL draft
However Naitanui had to leave his family love bubble on Monday night. The recently retired Eagles star was in Melbourne to present Reid - arguably the most-hyped draft prospect in history - with his first West Eagles jumper on Monday.
The Eagles praised Reid's resilience on Sunday as they prepared to select the prodigious young gun with the top pick in the AFL draft. Coming off just five wins across the past two seasons, the Eagles headed to Marvel Stadium with the prized No.1 draft pick in their possession.
The 2023 wooden spooners had toyed with the idea of trading the top pick for multiple selections early in the draft, but settled on recruiting Reid out of the country Victorian town of Tongala. The 18-year-old has been forced to insist he'd be happy at the Eagles amid speculation he was unimpressed about the prospect of moving outside of Victoria.
"I think he's done a marvellous job," said West Coast list boss Rohan O'Brien on Sunday night. "It's something I have not seen before to the level it has been, which just goes to show the interest in the draft these days and the young boys in the draft. He's been exposed to a lot more than anybody I've seen going through the draft system before and he's handled himself remarkably well the whole way through."
Naitanui handed the No.9 guernsey to Reid, which he and fellow West Coast 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."
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