West Coast will secure No.1 AFL draft pick Harley Reid.
A West Coast rebuild focusing on young talent will gather momentum during the 2023 AFL draft. Image by Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS
  • Australian rules football

Eagles poised to begin long rebuild at AFL draft

Oliver Caffrey November 19, 2023

West Coast will take their biggest step in an arduous rebuild by picking prodigious talent Harley Reid with the first selection in the AFL draft.

But the Eagles could also snare homegrown talent Daniel Curtin in a move that would help supercharge their rise up the ladder.

After claiming the second wooden spoon in the club’s proud history, the Eagles need to strike gold in this year’s draft, to be held at Marvel Stadium, on Monday and Tuesday night.

Coming off five wins across the past two seasons, West Coast have finally realised they need to rebuild their list with young talent.

After winning the 2018 premiership, the Eagles attempted to stay near the top by sticking with their ageing grand final heroes.

West Coast also paid a record price at the trade table for experienced midfielder Tim Kelly in 2019, draft selections that ultimately allowed Geelong to lure superstar forward Jeremy Cameron out of GWS the following year.

But with greats such as Shannon Hurn, Luke Shuey and Nic Naitanui retired, the Eagles have no other option but to work their way up from the bottom.

Naitanui is expected to be in Melbourne on Monday night to present Reid, arguably the most-hyped draft prospect in history, with his first West Coast jumper.

Reid, the gun midfielder from the small town of Tongala in northern Victoria, has been all but certain to be the No.1 pick for more than a year.

But the 18-year-old has been forced to defend himself amid speculation he was less than happy to move outside of Victoria, particularly to the struggling Eagles.

“Obviously, wherever I go, wherever it is, like even Melbourne’s going be a challenge for me to move,” Reid said in October.

“For 18 years I’ve been in a small country town and haven’t left my family so it’ll obviously be challenging even if I move to Melbourne.”

Retired West Coast Eagles legend Nic Naitanui.
 Nic Naitanui is tipped to present No.1 AFL draft pick Harley Reid with his first West Coast jumper. Image by Gary Day/AAP PHOTOS 

But Curtin, a tall intercepting defender from Claremont, is a more assured selection – if West Coast can land him.

The Eagles are looking into live trading on draft night so they can select Curtin with pick eight.

But such a move could come at a major cost if they give up a future first-round pick to get their hands on Curtin.

Trading future first-round draft selections is fraught with danger, as rivals Fremantle found out this year.

After reaching a semi-final in 2022, Fremantle brought in star ruck Luke Jackson from Melbourne in a bumper trade.

But the Dockers slid down the ladder this year, ultimately giving up pick six to the Demons, who are coming off finishing inside the top-four after the home-and-away season.

Embattled North Melbourne, who finished in the bottom-two for a fourth straight season, have picks two and three in the draft after controversially being awarded priority selections by the AFL.

The Kangaroos will likely bring in Tasmanian star Colby McKercher with pick two, as well as Zane Duursma, the young brother of Essendon recruit Xavier.


1. Harley Reid (West Coast)

2. Colby McKercher (North Melbourne)

3. Jed Walter (Gold Coast matching North Melbourne’s bid)

4. Zane Duursma (North Melbourne)

5. Nick Watson (Hawthorn)

6. Ryley Sanders (Western Bulldogs)

7. Caleb Windsor (Melbourne)

8. Daniel Curtin (West Coast)

9. Ethan Read (Gold Coast matching Geelong’s bid)

10. Nate Caddy (Geelong)