Harley Reid celebrates after West Coast's win over Richmond at Optus Stadium in R5, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

WHAT goes through your mind when you realise you're about to try fending off Dustin Martin in an AFL game?

Harley Reid, the West Coast prodigy, No.1 pick and this round's AFL Rising Star nominee, can answer that question. Although, in the moment, the EFO (effective fend-off) proponent didn't actually realise what he was about to do on Sunday, as the Eagles stormed past Richmond to land their first win of 2024.

"It was actually pretty funny. I didn't actually realise it was him until afterwards and I was like 'Oh, that was him'," Reid told AFL.com.au on Monday.

"I got to the bench and I saw 'Duggo' (Eagles co-captain Liam Duggan) and he smiled at me and I smiled back and said 'I did it'. But it was funny. I wouldn't count it as a fend off."

On the EFO scale, the 18-year-old said it was "probably 0.5 per cent".

"He tripped over and I was falling over as well. I realised as soon as I put my hand out I saw it was him and I was like 'Woah, I better get back the other way'," Reid said.

"For me [playing against Martin] was obviously pretty cool, I've got so much respect for 'Dusty'. I was a bit flat at the end, I didn't end up getting to shake his hand because I had the Fox Footy stuff to do but it was pretty cool to run around and see him and running alongside him. Like I said, it's pretty cool when your idols become your rivals."

Reid has come exactly as advertised in the first five games of his AFL career, entering the competition with unmatched hype and delivering highlights aplenty in his first month at the level. His game against Richmond was his best so far, seeing him gather 27 disposals (including 12 contested possessions), 531m gained, seven clearances, eight score involvements and another four broken tackles to add to his growing list.


In the third quarter alone he had 13 touches and five clearances and showed his explosive streak, with Reid game by game exhibiting more of the traits that made him a unanimous top pick in last year's draft: the speed, strength, goal sense, overheard marking, penetrating kicking and pure game-breaking skills.

He overcame a slow start, too, after not registering a disposal in the first 15 minutes of the opening term against the Tigers.


"We were a bit frustrated with the start we had and personally I was a bit frustrated too. I hadn't got my hands on it for the first 15 but we knew that wasn't the footy we wanted to play and the footy we've been playing. We knew it was going to turn if we kept playing to how we wanted to," he said.

"Through the game I was enjoying myself out there. I think you find another part of fun when you're winning so I just tried to keep smiling and kept getting around the boys. There was a lot of individual brilliance from a lot of players on the team so that was so good to see.

"I still think there's so much more I can show. The last two weeks I've been able to get out there and express myself a lot more and I'm starting to get that confidence in my game."

With his Rising Star nomination now secured, Reid will be aiming to become the first Eagle to take out the award since Ben Cousins in 1996. But with the Eagles keen to keep developing his game in different areas, the dynamic midfielder said his focus remained on growing – and winning.

"That's something for every young Rising Star who gets nominated throughout the year. For me it's putting every foot forward and building my game week by week and hopefully keep being a big part of our wins. Hopefully we'll have some more wins along the way because I could get used to winning, I'll tell you that right now," he said.

Reid's move from Victoria to Perth has been minutely tracked and treasured in Western Australia, with the Bendigo Pioneers and Tongala product admitting the focus has at times been a new challenge to deal with.

"I've found it's been a big thing that's come with it. It's hard at times when you want to have a bit of down time and you get to some parts and you get to those times when it's a bit full on. I feel like it's hard at times with some stuff but for me it's just living in the moment and being the person I am," he said.

"The move's been good, the boys have helped a lot. It's a nice spot over here. It comes with missing family and you can't go see them on your days off and that sort of thing and that's a challenge that comes with it but I'm enjoying my time so far."

Harley Reid celebrates a goal during the round five match between West Coast and Richmond at Optus Stadium, April 14, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

He still keeps in regular contact with family and friends back home and might even continue the pre-match preparation that led to his career-best outing on Sunday – a FaceTime with his cousin Lenny to wish him well ahead of his first game for his Moama under-12s side.

"He always tries to give me a call here and there and is always trying to tell me how I went and where I went right or wrong," Reid said.

"He's telling me he's trying to get a bit physical with the young pups so he's loving running around there and he's got the number nine on too. That's pretty cool to see how they look up to me with their journey. It's pretty humbling."

2024 Rising Star nominees

Opening Round: Matt Roberts (Sydney)
Round one: Ollie Dempsey (Geelong)
Round two: George Wardlaw (North Melbourne)
Round three: Harvey Gallagher (Western Bulldogs)
Round four: Sam Darcy (Western Bulldogs)
Round five: Harley Reid (West Coast)