GUN DRAFTEE Harley Reid showed he could be ready to make an immediate midfield impact if unleashed by West Coast this season, taking control of match simulation training on Wednesday with an exciting burst onball.
Reid, who mixed his time between the midfield and half-back, was the dominant player on the ground for the first of three 20-minute periods at Mineral Resources Park, with his power and skill on show.
The No.1 pick started several centre bounces and racked up disposals, taking the ball cleanly in traffic, fending off opponents, and getting the ball in dangerous positions to kick long inside 50 as a crowd of approximately 300 fans watched on.
The Eagles plan to introduce Reid to the AFL as a half-back, but it is clear the 18-year-old will also have opportunities as a centre bounce player after spending time lining up on dual club champion Elliot Yeo in the middle.
Co-captain Oscar Allen said the players were not surprised by Reid's performance as the Eagles completed a physical and at times chaotic match simulation ahead of four days away from the club.
"That's just Harley. He's a good player and he still has a lot of development left in his game, around structures and stuff, but he just brings an instinctual flair to the game," Allen said.
"As an 18-year-old young man, he doesn't know any different and we want to keep bringing that out of him. He goes pick No.1 for a reason."
While Reid stood out early, the Eagles would also have been pleased with the impact of big-bodied draftee Clay Hall as a midfielder, while Hawthorn recruit Tyler Brockman enjoyed some high-impact moments in attack.
Ruck recruit Matt Flynn was solid throughout as Bailey Williams spent time forward, with star Allen kicking three goals as the most productive forward on the ground.
While several youngsters and recruits had Allen excited, he reserved praise for senior teammate Yeo, who brought his trademark power and intensity to the contest as he looks to produce his first full season since 2019.
"'Yeoy' has worked his backside off all off-season and pre-season. He's someone who has really wanted to do everything he can for the footy club on-field and off-field," Allen said.
"The way he has handled himself the last six months has been nothing short of exceptional. He was in here all the time in the off-season working as hard as he can, and that's why he's one of the best on-field leaders we have.
"He's a great footballer, everybody knows that, but the intangibles he can bring to the group is probably something we've missed.
"He looks really good, fit, and strong and his aggression is unbelievable, and that's something he brings that not many people can replicate."
On their team focuses this pre-season, Allen said getting stronger in the contest was important for the Eagles, who ranked last in the AFL last season for average contested possession (121.1).
"I think the first identity that any successful side has – you look at Collingwood, Brisbane, Geelong and all the clubs playing deep into finals – they're really good in the contest and they get field position," Allen said, with Wednesday's session defined by pressure and chaos rather than polished ball movement.
"It's really hard to win games of footy when you're trying to rebound the ball from your backline.
"I think you've got to be a good contest side, so that's something we're training really hard, and from there the game evolves."