Saints coach feels for suspended Eagles young gun

Justin Chadwick |

Coach Ross Lyon feels for the suspended Harley Reid, who is now ineligible for the Rising Star gong.
Coach Ross Lyon feels for the suspended Harley Reid, who is now ineligible for the Rising Star gong.

St Kilda coach Ross Lyon has become the latest AFL figurehead to sympathise with Harley Reid after West Coast’s No.1 draft pick was stripped of the chance to win the Rising Star award.

Reid will miss games against North Melbourne and Essendon either side of the Eagles’ bye after being slapped with a two-match ban for a dangerous sling tackle.

West Coast challenged the ruling at the AFL Tribunal in a bid to halve the suspension, but were unsuccessful.

Reid was the raging-hot favourite to win the Rising Star award, but is now ineligible due to the ban.

In a twist of fate, St Kilda’s Darcy Wilson, who was the one tackled by Reid, is now the third favourite to win the award behind only Kangaroos duo George Wardlaw and Colby McKercher. 

Western Bulldogs forward Sam Darcy would have been the new favourite, but he is also out of the running after copping a two-match ban.

Geelong coach Chris Scott has been among the critics who believe players should still be able to win the award even if they have been suspended.

Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell believes players should only be ruled out if their suspension was for an intentional act, rather than careless.

Lyon’s thoughts are along the same path.

“The first-year player, fairest bit. Are you an unfair player if you get a tackle wrong? I don’t think you are,” Lyon told reporters on Thursday.

Reid’s stunning debut season has been the talk of the AFL world and he tore St Kilda to shreds in the second quarter last week when he racked up 13 disposals and six clearances for the term.

The 19-year-old only tallied three more disposals for the match after Lyon ordered Marcus Windhager to apply a tight tag, with the move helping the Saints secure a 14-point win.

Harley Reid.
Harley Reid (L) was outstanding for West Coast in their loss to the Saints. (David Woodley/AAP PHOTOS)

In classic Lyon fashion the veteran coach pretended to momentarily forget Reid’s name when pondering whether to give Windhager another tagging role in Saturday night’s clash with Gold Coast at Marvel Stadium.

“It’s not something we typically do,” Lyon said.

“We felt it necessary (last week) after that young player – who was it? – Harley Reid. His seven clearances and (13) disposals, they were pretty handy.

“We felt that was a significant factor in the game, so we did it.

“We know we can go to it. It’s not off the table. But we’ve only done it two or three times since I’ve been here.

“You’ve got to balance up your system versus locking someone down. Last week it worked, it’s no guarantee the next week.”

Star St Kilda forward Max King, who was subbed off last week with a knee injury, was named to face the Suns, with both sides going in unchanged.