Harley Reid and Will Ashcroft during the 2022 U18 National Championships (left and right) and the 2024 AFL season (centre). Pictures: AFL Photos

TWO years after last meeting on a football field, a couple of the AFL's brightest young stars will line up against each other for the first time at senior level on Sunday.

Will Ashcroft and Harley Reid were household names during their respective draft years and following vastly different journeys over the past 12 months, will be central to the round 18 clash between Brisbane and West Coast at Optus Stadium.

It's the first meeting at senior level of what could become a 10 to 15-year career-long rivalry.

Ashcroft led Vic Metro to the 2022 under-18 national championships, edging out Reid's Vic Country team in the title-deciding game by seven points.

The soon-to-be Lion was en route to winning the Larke Medal as the player of the championships, while Reid was making waves as a bottom-ager and about to be selected in his first All-Australian team as a 17-year-old.

"He was very good that day for Country," Ashcroft recalled on Tuesday morning.

"We just won but he was very influential for their side."

Will Ashcroft in action for Vic Metro against Vic Country in the 2022 NAB AFL U18 Championships. Picture: AFL Photos

Ashcroft would be snapped up by Brisbane as a father-son selection at No.2 a few months later, going on to have a brilliant start to the 2023 season before a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament ruined his first season in the AFL.

Meanwhile, Reid charged to a second straight U18 All-Australian nod and the coveted No.1 pick in that year's draft, bound for the Eagles.

Perhaps no draftee in recent memory has been scrutinised as much as Reid, with Ashcroft saying he kept things simple in his early days at thee Lions as he adjusted to the extra attention at AFL level.

"I just tried to focus on things I could control," he said.

"I love the day-to-day grind of being diligent with my training and my recovery and my review and that sort of stuff, so that when I'm showing up on the weekend I'm in the best position to perform at my best.

Will Ashcroft in action during Brisbane's clash with Melbourne in round 18, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

"That's what I did and the advice I'd give (to young players)."

Now two games back from his serious knee injury, Ashcroft has been a strong contributor in wins over Melbourne and Adelaide, racking up 18 disposals against the Dees and 21 with a goal against the Crows.

He said he was looking forward to crossing paths with the young Eagle on Sunday.

"He's obviously having an unreal debut season. It's hard not to see what he's doing when he's performing at a high level most weeks," he said.

"It'll be a challenge and I'm looking forward to playing against him again."