Harley Reid under pressure from Marcus Windhager during the R12 match between West Coast and St Kilda at Optus Stadium on June 1, 2024. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

WEST Coast coach Adam Simpson says he assured young star Harley Reid he didn't think there was an issue with his dangerous tackle against St Kilda on Saturday night as the midfielder worked through the first hard tag of his career.

Reid faces Match Review scrutiny on Sunday after a sling tackle on Darcy Wilson that resulted in the Saints speedster hitting his head in the third quarter and being assessed at Optus Stadium before playing out the game.

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While Wilson was cleared and finished strongly, Reid's eligibility for the Rising Star Award – for which he was a short-priced favourite leading into Saturday's game – is still in jeopardy given an AFL crackdown in recent seasons on similar tackles. 

Simpson said his focus on Saturday night was helping Reid handle an aggressive tag from opponent Marcus Windhager in the second half, and he had told the 19-year-old not to worry about the third-quarter incident. 

"I spoke to him and it was like, 'Mate I didn't think there was much in it, so keep going'," Simpson said. 

"Keep working through the tag was probably the [message]. That (the tackle) will work itself out, and whatever happens there we'll deal with, but the learning for him is going to be good.


"I'm restricted a little bit, so I thought there was nothing in it, that's what I'll say."

Reid was electric in the first half on Saturday, propelling the Eagles to a half-time lead with a 13-possession, six-clearance second quarter as his combative approach at stoppages troubled the Saints.

Windhager was then sent to him at the first centre bounce of the third quarter, restricting the No.1 pick to three disposals and one clearance in the second half. 


"He was sensational in the first half, so understandably he's going to get some attention. We've got his back and he's got to deal with it as we go, but I hope we're not too critical of his second half," Simpson said. 

"We'll keep working with him on how to manage the run-with, and we'll keep working with the rest of our group and how to manage that situation and what we can do to help, but it's all part of his learning.

"He'll be fine … when you win your own ball, it's OK. It's when you're an outside player that relies on receiving the ball, it's a bit harder."


After countering the Saints' momentum surges for the first three quarters, Simpson said he felt his team was outworked in the final term and potentially ran out of legs as an arm-wrestle took its toll. 

The coach hoped key forward Jake Waterman, who was withdrawn pre-game with a shoulder injury, would be available to take on North Melbourne next Saturday, alongside club champion Tim Kelly (hip).

He was pleased with recruit Matt Flynn's first performance after overcoming a tendon injury to lead the ruck with 32 hitouts and 12 disposals, having started particularly well with support from Bailey Williams. 

"The combination looked good, didn't it, and then it didn't look that good in the last 40 minutes," he said.

"I think Flynn felt the effects of his first game for a long period of time … but it looked like the one-two punch was working well, so I think we'll look at the positives."


St Kilda assistant Corey Enright stepped in for coach Ross Lyon after the match because of illness, with the backline coach pleased with the Saints' second half, which included a run of five of the last six goals to seal the win. 

Max King suffered a jarred knee during the third quarter and will undergo scans after being substituted, but Enright said the club was hopeful he would be cleared of damage. 

On Windhager's tagging performance, Enright said the hard-working Saint had been instructed to executive a full shutdown job on Reid and had done it well.


"He (Reid) was such as big factor, especially in that second quarter in stoppage and clearances, and he was getting his game going, so we had to talk about it," Enright said. 

"For Marcus to nullify his impact, that was something we identified for him in particular, and he had help from his teammates. It was something we had to do.

"It’s sometimes hard to do at times, because he was so red hot. He (Windhager) got involved when he needed to, but more around stoppage and clearance where Harley was getting the ball, that was his instruction."