WEST Coast coach Adam Simpson has moved to manage expectations on prized No.1 draft pick Harley Reid and declared it was unlikely the talented teenager would play every game this year as the club manages his workload through his debut season.
Hype surrounding Reid this summer has reached fever pitch as the 18-year-old trains at an exceptional level for a draftee and gives Eagles fans cause for optimism after two seasons that have netted a combined five wins.
Simpson said the level-headed teenager was handling the pressure and expectation well and had made a "meteoric rise" with his professionalism and performance since joining the Eagles last November.
Reid's combative style as a contested ball-winner, however, meant the Eagles would manage him both by introducing him to the top level as a half-back and looking to rest him through the season where needed.
"We're about to embark on a minimum 23 games, and to think that an 18-year-old kid could come in and play as an inside mid, I think we've got to be careful with that," Simpson told AFL.com.au this week.
"We want to give him a good look at down back, a good look at onball, and down the track a look forward.
"He won't be playing every game I wouldn't have thought. We need to look after him to a certain degree.
"It's been hard to do that with our kids the last couple of years because of availability, but we can try and manage him a little bit in a way that gets him through the whole year."
The hype surrounding Reid in Perth has been driven both by his status as the Eagles' first No.1 draft pick since 1996 as well as match simulation performances that have excited the new No.9's teammates and coaches.
Simpson said he was proud of the way the midfielder had adapted to life at the top level, helping change the culture of the Eagles' locker room alongside an influx of young players who have joined the club in the past three drafts.
"He deals with pressure and expectation really well, so that is in a pretty good space," Simpson said.
"But being an under-18s No.1 draft pick to being on an AFL list and being a professional footballer, I'm just so proud of how he has adapted to that.
"That is the challenge for anyone who gets drafted: can you be a professional? And I'm just seeing a meteoric rise in the way he goes about preparing and recovering and performing. It's something that he gravitates to really well."
While Reid has drawn the headlines, the Eagles are also anticipating an early impact from strong-bodied midfielder Clay Hall, who has shown "top-end speed and endurance" and looks ready to play at AFL level after an impressive first pre-season.
Simpson was also hopeful trade and free agency recruits Matt Flynn (Greater Western Sydney) and Tyler Brockman (Hawthorn) could have an early impact after joining the club as targeted acquisitions to add another ruck option and forward firepower respectively.
"Flynn is ready to go. He has a really good footy brain, has already connected to our players really well, and he allows Bailey (Williams) to play forward a little bit, or we actually have options," Simpson said.
"Our clearance work wasn't great [in 2023] and it wasn't Bailey's fault. He was a young ruckman trying to work his way through playing every game of the year.
"Flynn will come and help that and already we're seeing some positivity around that with what we're doing.
"(Brockman) has got tremendous upside … he's had a pretty good taste of senior footy and just needs to play to his strengths. Both of them have complemented the group really well."