Boy wonders Ashcroft, Reid reunite on AFL stage

Murray Wenzel |

Lions midfielder Will Ashcroft is looking forward to the challenge Harley Reid will pose in Perth.
Lions midfielder Will Ashcroft is looking forward to the challenge Harley Reid will pose in Perth.

Harley Reid’s impact has filtered through even Will Ashcroft’s meticulously narrow focus as the AFL’s emerging stars prepare for their first senior meeting.

Brisbane Lions midfielder Ashcroft and West Coast rookie Reid last played two years ago, Ashcroft’s Vic Metro beating Reid’s Vic Country by seven points to win the U18 national championship.

They both made the All-Australian side that year, father-son pick Ashcroft then drafted to the Lions with the second pick and blitzing his debut season before requiring knee surgery.

Reid was snapped up by the Eagles with the first pick and has dazzled in his debut season, Ashcroft only two games back from a year-long layoff but primed to help the surging Lions on their finals push.

Harley Reid.
Harley Reid on the charge during West Coast’s last-out loss to the Demons in Melbourne. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

“He was very good that day for Country,” Ashcroft said of their last meeting ahead of Sunday’s clash in Perth.

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

“He’s obviously having an unreal debut season.

“I don’t watch too much footy outside of our stuff but it’s hard not to see what he’s doing when he’s performing at a high level most weeks.

“I’m looking forward to playing against him again.”

Ashcroft has quickly established a reputation as one of the Lions’ most diligent athletes and said that helped when under the spotlight last season.

“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.

“That’s what I did and the advice I’d give (to young players).”

It’s helped him slot back in nicely, Ashcroft collecting 18 disposals against Melbourne in his return game, then 21 with a goal against Adelaide.

Brisbane began the year poorly, slipping to 2-5, but have won seven and drawn one of their last nine games to sit within one win of the top four.

“We’ve always had belief right the way through. As hard as it was watching on, how the guys turned up each week to review and train when we’re battling a little bit was unbelievable,” he said.

“I’m glad we’ve turned it around.”