VFL Player Focus: Harley Reid (Carlton)

A PROSPECT who has been on the AFL Draft radar for the best part of 18 months, Harley Reid has now joined the list of top-age talents to make their debut at senior state league level in 2023, suiting up for Carlton’s VFL side against Footscray in a five-point loss on Saturday.

The pick one favourite has dominated at every level he has played to date; averaging a touch over 20 disposals as a bottom-ager in the Under 18 National Championships in 2022, and starting his 2023 Coates Talent League season strongly with 22.3 disposals on average, and five goals, from three games.

A strongly built utility, Reid has plied his trade in all three areas of the ground, and his versatility was on full display as he was deployed everywhere in his VFL debut. We put his performance under the Player Focus microscope.

Midfielder, Forward

Harley Reid

Height: 187cm

Weight: 85kg

DOB: 17-04-2005

2023 VFL: Round 6
Footscray 9.15 (69) def. Carlton 9.10 (64)

Player Focus: #78 Harley Reid (Carlton)
Stats: 13 disposals (10 kicks, 3 handballs), 3 marks, 3 tackles, 2 clearances


It was a strong sign of faith from the Carlton coaching group, with Reid attending the first centre bounce of the game on debut, and quickly repaying said faith by winning the first centre bounce of the game. Grabbing it as it bounced high off the ground, Reid was quick to get boot to ball, sending it wide for a winger to run onto.

Reid showed off his ability to spread from congestion quickly, with his two further touches for the quarter coming as he ran forward of the ball to get a handball from the carrier, with both of his kicks aimed to the goalsquare for teammates to compete for.

Whilst it wasn’t the most prolific of quarters for Reid, ability to get from contest to contest and frantically pressure opponents out of stoppages was admirable, laying a couple of tackles in close to cause repeat stoppages or steam an opposition attacking foray.


Again attending majority of the centre bounces for the quarter, Reid found it more difficult to get clean possession as the Bulldogs’ on-ball brigade started to run over the top of the Blues. The teen was perhaps a little taken back by the increased levels of physicality in the VFL, as he was knocked off balance and off the ball a few times.

Despite this, Reid still managed two kicks for the quarter; one coming from smart positioning on the outside of defensive 50 which allowed him to be used as an outlet option, playing on from the mark and selling some candy before hitting up a leading target from the forward line.

Harley Reid gets a kick away for Vic Country | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central


The quietest quarter for Reid in terms of disposals, Reid was moved from the midfield to the forward line in the third term, suffering from a lack of service as the Bulldogs continued to lock the ball inside their forward half.

Even with the ball spending majority of the quarter in Footscray’s front half, Reid still bobbed up around most of Carlton’s bombs from their defensive 50, flying for pack marks or spoiling from behind in an attempt to get the ball to ground for his teammates.

Reid did play a part in what was arguably Carlton’s best look inside attacking 50, taking a chest mark after nudging an opponent under the footy, before playing on and centring the ball rather than taking a shot himself.


Trailing by 26 points and not having much of the play up to three-quarter time, Carlton looked unlikely to make a comeback, but with Reid’s most prolific quarter left until last, the Blues lifted to almost take the game from the Bulldogs’ hands.

Reid was shifted into his third position for the game, starting off on the back flank and having an immediate impact. Reid was aggressive with his running from the backline, coming off from the first centre bounce, winning the ball and handing it off to a teammate in space to continue the play forward. Reid was showing the same level of confidence he displays against Under 18s in the final term, even demonstrating his trademark stiff-arm early in the quarter.

Reid looked at his best when on the move with ball in hand, making regular runs to get handball receives from teammates, carrying it as far as he could and then using it smartly to keep his side moving quickly. Reid utilised his long kicking as often as he could, regularly getting 50 meters behind his kicks to put constant pressure on the Bulldogs defence.

Whilst solid defensively, Reid was most impressive heading forward where he created two of Carlton’s best goal scoring opportunities, one coming as he took advantage from a free kick on the top of the 50 and handballing to a teammate after drawing in an opponent, and the other coming as he received the ball centrally, played on and kicked it 45 meters in a pin point matter, as it landed on a teammates chest.

Harley Reid chases up at ground level for the Bendigo Pioneers | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central


Whilst it certainly wasn’t Reid’s most prolific performance, it was an impressive start to what may well be a very short VFL career given how high he is likely to go in November’s draft. He took some time to adjust to the physicality of the competition, not used to opponents being able to outmuscle him like they did in the first three terms.

Once he got up to the pace of the game, he looked his superb self. Reid’s off-the-ball work was arguably better than it usually is in the game, regularly positioning himself well around congestion to get a handball on the outside, or working hard to be in good spots for teammates to kick to. It was unfortunate that those efforts largely went unrewarded even when he was the best option.

With a few more performances for Carlton’s VFL side, and one against them, to come this season, Reid will almost certainly improve on the output from his outing at the level, which was also impacted by heavy rotation onto the bench throughout the match.

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