Leading prospect Reid leaves nothing to chance

THERE’S a long way to go, but Bendigo Pioneers star Harley Reid is already the consensus top prospect for this year’s AFL Draft. The midfielder-forward compiled one of the most accomplished bottom-age campaigns in 2022, sweeping up a slew of accolades with bucketloads of flair and starpower.

Among the 17-year-old’s achievements; he is already an Under 18 All Australian and Coates Talent League Team of the Year member, he came second in the Bendigo Pioneers’ Best and Fairest, and took out the region’s Rising Star award. He could well do it all again in 2023, and some.

As part of his AFL Academy commitments, the Geelong Cats supporter also got to spend a week training with Essendon. With season proper approaching, Rookie Me Central sat down with Reid for a quick Q&A on Saturday.

>> AFL Draft: 23 in 2023

Harley Reid in Vic Country colours | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central

>> AFL Draft: The forwards set to light up 2023



Q: Harley, how has preseason been?

A: It’s been pretty tough at times but it’s been good. We’re pretty flat out at the moment so it’s good to bring it back down a level sometimes.

Q: You’ve been injury free?

A: Yeah I’ve been injury free but I’ve had a big few weeks, hard weeks which bring a bit of general soreness in the process.

Q: You got to train with Essendon, how was that?

A: I did a week with them, it was a great experience. The boys were a great bunch and I enjoyed their company. They ended up coming to Bendigo for their community camp so I did a day with them which was good. It was on a Friday so I got the day off school. I wasn’t complaining.

>> 2023 AFL Academy squad

Q: How has your experience across several elite programs set you up for your top-age year?

A: It’s been a great opportunity to play through different levels and different standards of the pathway, to test where my ability’s at. I feel like it gives me a good read on what the footy looks like and the improvement I’ve had over the three years will put me in good stead for this year.

>> 2023 Vic Country talent hub

Q: You played in every third of the ground last year, where will you play in 2023?

A: Hopefully I stick to that mid-forward role and get that down pat… I’m happy to play anywhere and show my versatility but I see myself in that mid-forward role, it’s where I reckon I play my best footy.

Q: What are some of your strengths, and your improvement areas?

A: I’ll start with the goods. My contested work and ability around the pill, contested marking too. Something I’ve been trying to work on is probably my running. My ability to run two ways, improving that fitness base, but that will come.

Q: Are there any players you mould your game on?

A: I’d say I wouldn’t really compare, but I like to take stuff off a few players like ‘Dusty’ (Dustin Martin) and (Christian) Petracca. Kind of the same role as them, but I like to really justify myself as being my own player and turning myself into something special.

Q: What are some of your goals for the year?

A: Hopefully just taking it week by week, being consistent and just having that ability to keep getting better, to improve week by week… I want to get drafted like everyone else I suppose, and play at the highest level I can, so hopefully getting the opportunity to play VFL footy at either Carlton or Essendon.

Q: You’ve got a fairly stacked highlight reel already, what has been your favourite so far?

A: I took a good mark on Charlie Barnett at training on Thursday, he wasn’t too happy with that. In the moment I’d probably have to choose the Vic Metro one (against Lewis Hayes in the goalsquare) because in the moment that felt good. But that Tassie one (see below), you probably can’t go past a hanger.

Q: Who would you select with pick one in this year’s draft?

A: I’ll go with ‘Watto’ (Nick Watson). He’ll love that, he’ll love the attention.

Harley Reid takes ‘that’ mark against Tasmania | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central

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