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West Coast respond after damning Harley Reid report

West Coast football boss Gavin Bell says he isn’t aware of any communication between his club and Harley Reid that the hot Pick 1 favourite doesn’t want to be drafted to the Eagles.

It comes amid a report Reid and his camp have begun to suggest his preference would be to stay in Victoria.

A powerful and versatile 185cm player from the Bendigo Pioneers, Reid is considered the top prospect in this year’s draft pool by most clubs. That standing was enhanced during the recent national carnival, with Reid winning Vic Country’s MVP award after booting 5.6 and averaging 20 disposals, 13 contested possessions and a competition-high seven clearances.

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AFL journalist Sam McClure reported on The Tradies podcast that “rumours in the industry have been circling for weeks now” about Reid’s preference to stay in Melbourne.

McClure reported conversations between interested clubs and “people connected to Harley” had begun around where Reid wanted to start his AFL career. McClure stressed West Coast hadn’t been directly told not to draft Reid, nor that he didn’t want to move to WA.

However he did state: “I’ve had it put to me on very good authority from multiple people that I trust, that Harley Reid has essentially told West Coast that he doesn’t want to be drafted there.

“I want to be really specific for our listeners – I’m not dressing this up and I’m not saying Harley has called someone at the Eagles and said ‘don’t draft me’, it’s never that dramatic – but I think some conversations that are starting to develop between the people that represent him … his uncle has been doing a lot of the negotiations along with his manager Nick Gieschen.

“So there’s always a degree of grey in this and I’m not saying anything explicit, so if I end up getting quoted here I’m not saying Harley or his uncle or Nick or anyone in his management has called West Coast and said ‘don’t draft him’.

“What I’m saying is that obviously he’s going to be the number one pick. I think there are conversations starting to go on with clubs that are interested and with the people connected to Harley that ‘look he may end up being the best version of himself if he stayed in Victoria’.

“(The Bulldogs’) Bailey Smith had the exact same conversations with clubs at the same time. It’s not against the rules, it’s just something that’s starting to happen a little bit more as these teenagers start to have a bit more of a status in the public eye.”

He added: “I think West Coast are aware that Harley would prefer to stay in Melbourne. That’s coming from people connected directly to Harley. That doesn’t mean they won’t take him. It also doesn’t mean they’re being told not to take him.”

Asked on SEN WA Mornings if he was aware of any communication between Reid’s management and the Eagles suggesting he’d prefer not to be drafted to WA, Bell said: “No I’m not.

“Now that the state championships are finished, our recruiting team is going back through all their assessments of the players. We’re starting to frame up our draft board list and the communication between agents and players has begun.

“We’ve had no indication from any players of a lack of willingness to want to come to our football club.”

Foxfooty.com.au has contacted Reid’s management for comment.

Asked by SEN host Mark Duffield what the club’s response would be if it’d heard, either directly or indirectly that Reid didn’t want to move interstate, Bell said: “We want to bring in the best available talent with the picks that we have. We would work our way through a process, there’s interviews to do, conversations with agents that happen with all those players … there’s a lot of work to do before we make our selections.”

The hype around Reid – the best prospect one recruiter had ever seen when asked by foxfooty.com.au about Reid earlier this year — has been significant. He was ‘papped’ by media at Perth airport when Vic Country arrived to play WA in the national championships then was seen signing Eagles gear and having selfies with fans after the game.

The Eagles are seemingly destined to finish on the bottom of this year’s AFL ladder, which would therefore hand them Pick 1. Regardless of Reid’s preference, they face a significant call on whether to hold their first pick or trade it away to acquire multiple early selections to help accelerate their rebuild.

Reid was asked at Perth airport last month about the prospect of being taken by the lowly Eagles and moving away from Victoria.

“I haven’t spoken much at all about wherever I’ll go. There’s a still a lot to go. I’m a country boy but I’m happy to look anywhere. Wherever that takes me is where I’ll go,” Reid told reporters at the airport.

Reid starred in Vic Country’s win over Vic Metro on Sunday, finishing with 24 disposals, 14 contested possessions, 11 clearances, seven score involvements and five marks to cap off his champs campaign.

“I’m just out there to have fun, really,” Reid told Fox Footy post-match. “At the end of the day, that’s why I play footy and to meet new people.

“I’m pretty laid back. It’s good having the balance of where I come from. It’s pretty good.

I’m just a normal Harley. It always stays in my heart where I come from and where I am at the moment.”

Originally published as West Coast addresses report AFL No.1 draft pick favourite wants to stay in Victoria

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