Eagles to argue length of Reid’s ban at AFL tribunal

Shayne Hope and Justin Chadwick |

The Eagles will contest the grading of young gun Harley Reid’s ban at the AFL tribunal.
The Eagles will contest the grading of young gun Harley Reid’s ban at the AFL tribunal.

West Coast’s young sensation Harley Reid will fight the grading of his rough conduct charge at the AFL tribunal in a bid to have his two-match suspension halved.

Reid faces the first ban of his fledgling career after being cited for slinging St Kilda’s Darcy Wilson to the ground in the Eagles’ 14-point loss at Optus Stadium on Saturday.

The force and nature of the tackle resulted in the back of Wilson’s head hitting the turf, but he was cleared of concussion and returned to the field.

The league’s match review officer graded the incident as careless contact, high impact and high contact.

“West Coast will challenge that the level of impact should be downgraded to medium, rather than high, which would result in a one-match suspension,” the club said in a statement on Monday.

The Western Bulldogs also announced they will challenge the one-match ban handed to Rhylee West for rough conduct against Collingwood veteran Jeremy Howe.

Given West Coast are only fighting to reduce Reid’s ban rather than overturn it, the 19-year-old is now ineligible to win the Rising Star award in which he was the raging hot favourite.

Bulldogs tall Sam Darcy was the second favourite but is now also out of the running, having accepted a two-match suspension for rough conduct on Collingwood’s Brayden Maynard.

The unexpected turn of events has thrown the Rising Star race wide open and sparked calls for the award’s eligibility criteria to be overhauled.

But AFL football boss Laura Kane says that will not happen.

“I can categorically rule out the eligibility criteria for Rising Star changing,” Kane told the AFL website on Monday.

“Notwithstanding the outcomes of the incidents over the weekend – one is being contested albeit on an outcome that would still see Harley miss a game of football – it’s not something we’re looking at.”

Sam Darcy.
Bulldog Sam Darcy is also Rising Star ineligible after flooring Magpie Brayden Maynard. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

North Melbourne great Corey McKernan (1994) and GWS matchwinner Toby Greene (2012) were ruled out of winning the Rising Star award as young players because of suspension.

The bans for Reid and Darcy have left North Melbourne’s George Wardlaw as the new favourite this year, ahead of teammate Colby McKercher.

Geelong forward Oliver Dempsey, St Kilda’s Wilson and Melbourne’s Caleb Windsor are the other leading candidates.

Reid has dazzled in his debut season, with the No.1 draft pick averaging 17.8 disposals and 4.9 clearances per game, to go with eight goals.

His spectacular fend-offs have already lit up social media, along with his high-flying marks.

Such was Reid’s influence in the first half against the Saints on Saturday, St Kilda coach Ross Lyon sent tagger Marcus Windhager to the star midfielder after the long break.

Reid was restricted to just three possessions in the second half and gave away four free kicks as he struggled under the extra attention.

West Coast veteran Andrew Gaff, himself a first-year revelation back in 2011, has been amazed by what Reid has produced in his debut season.

“It just feels normal now,” Gaff said of Reid’s on-field heroics. 

“He does that stuff all the time, it’s incredible.

“He got a tag in the second half – you know you’re going all right when that’s happening in your first year.”