Eagles firming to hold onto pick one: Ablett
Several AFL clubs have declared their intent to make a play for the West Coast Eagles’ coveted number one selection, with reports this morning indicating the club had flatly rejected an offer from North Melbourne of picks 15, 18, 21 and a future first round pick.
Draft expert Michael Ablett believes West Coast will select Victorian product Harley Reid with the first pick of the AFL draft.
Ablett told Sports Breakfast the Eagles had no bad options.
“Harley Reid, he is a generational player and by far the best player in the draft, let’s make no mistake about that,” Ablett said.
“I think it’s firming at the moment that West Coast probably will hold onto pick one and select Harley Reid, back themselves to keep him for a long time.
“The only concern I would have from a West Coast perspective, this is a really strong WA draft in the first round this year. There’s a number of guys, Koltyn Tholstrup, Daniel Curtin, Riley Hardeman, Mitch Edwards, Clay Hall.
“I’m not sure what the next two years look like. If their mantra is to go and select homegrown talent, I think the 2023 draft is the one that you target, you try and get multiple picks in the first round.”
With interest in the draft increasing every year, Ablett said the football public should be mindful of being too harsh in their criticism of the 18-year-old men looking to make their way in the world.
“It’s been a concern of mine for a fair while now. As much as we want to build the draft and build the interest, it is something we need to be really mindful of,” he said.
“It’s not just the kids either, you’re talking families, you’re talking mums, dads, brothers, sisters who potentially lose a member out of their household. Whilst it’s exciting, it’s stressful, there’s no doubt.
“The AFL have increased their footprint in the wellbeing space and they certainly are a lot better equipped across the talent programs in terms of what’s available for the players to talk to. Is it enough? Probably not, to be honest.”
The AFL Trade Period had an early bombshell on Monday morning, with Fremantle forward Lachie Schultz requesting a trade to premiers Collingwood for family reasons.
Ablett said the Dockers would be loathe to lose the two-time Glendenning-Allan Medalist, who has kicked 63 goals across the past two seasons.
“It’s going to be a really interesting one, isn’t it,” he said. “When you look at the list of players that have left Fremantle since 2017, it’s remarkable and I’m sure the club will be looking to address why it could be happening.
“This is the beauty of trade period. It certainly gets confusing for the general punter when you start talking future picks and those sorts of things, or it could be as straightforward as a swap.”
The AFL draft will take place across November 20 and 21, while the trade period ends at 5:30pm WA time next Wednesday.