Can't remember a prospect discussed more widely than Harley Reid: Ablett
AFL draft expert Michael Ablett says West Coast fans should be delighted that the club has secured generational prospect Harley Reid.
After more than a year in the headlines, the Tongala product was finally selected with the first pick of the AFL draft by the Eagles last night.
Ablett told Sports Breakfast he could not remember a more widely discussed prospect.
“This young man’s as good as we’ve seen for any number one draft pick across the history of 38 AFL drafts,” Ablett said.
“I think he’ll have the support of the entire state, apart from a few fans in purple.
“He’s got some big shoes to fill, wearing the number 9 and following on from two absolute superstars of the game in Ben Cousins and Nic Naitanui.”
The recent trend of the top of the draft being compromised reached new heights, with five matched academy bids, three free agency compensation picks, two father/son selections, and an assistance package pick seeing West Coast’s second round selection slide from pick 19 to pick 30.
Ablett said the system was likely to further evolve in future years.
“If you’re a club that’s looking to rebuild and all of a sudden you don’t have access to a third of the pool in that first round, I can understand the frustration,” he said.
“Is it always going to be like that? I think it’s still somewhat hit-or-miss in terms of what the northern academies are producing, I don’t think the rules around father/son should ever change, I think that’s a part of the game that should remain.
“I’d like to think once the northern academies consistently produce high numbers, the players should have the opportunity, like the father/son, to opt in to be taken by that club.”
WA’s best talent Daniel Curtin endured a slide on the night before Adelaide traded for GWS’s pick 8 to take him, reportedly beating out an offer from the Eagles.
North Melbourne passed on the Claremont product with both pick 2 and 4 despite losing Ben McKay in free agency, with Ablett saying the move was reminiscent of the Kangaroos passing on WA key position star Logan McDonald in the 2020 draft.
“I was surprised to see him fall that far. I said it last night on the coverage … I think he’ll be the steal of the draft,” he said.
“The Adelaide Crows targeted him … they are building a very, very nice list.
“I just think a few clubs have missed a trick with Daniel Curtin.”
Three other West Australians were selected in the draft’s first round, with Melbourne grabbing Subiaco’s Koltyn Tholstrup at pick 13, North Melbourne taking state under-18 captain Riley Hardeman at pick 23, and St Kilda swooping on speedster Lance Collard at pick 28.
The AFL draft will resume at 4pm WA time this evening, with the Eagles in possession of picks 30, 40, 49 and 66, and Fremantle entering the draft at pick 38 while also owning pick 41, 67, and 85.