Planting the Ben Reid seed

At the start of the decade Collingwood didnt have to think when it came to Ben Reid.

The premiership defender became an All-Australian defender and a regular in the top 10 of the club best and fairest as he played 87 of his 148 games with Collingwood in the four seasons from 2010-13.

He was an automatic selection in defence. However during the other nine years of Reids AFL career his name has occupied the thoughts of coaches, conditioning staff, physiotherapists and doctors more than most in the game.

Hawk Cyril Rioli and Magpie Ben Reid battle for possession in 2012.

Hawk Cyril Rioli and Magpie Ben Reid battle for possession in 2012.Credit:Pat Scala

Available and unavailable. Forward and back. Up and down. In and out.


Now the 30-year-old that never gives up is once again making life hard for selectors after he forced, through good VFL form, the Magpies to scratch their itch last week and select him to replace the suspended Jaidyn Stephenson inside the forward 50.

That decision was made despite Mason Cox and Brodie Mihocek already occupying forward roles.
Three goals and three marks inside forward 50 against the Western Bulldogs and acknowledgement from coach Nathan Buckley that he played better than the two mainstays was testament to Reids fighting qualities.

His game, and the way the Pies played, also made answering the question as to whether Collingwood could play three tall forwards impossible to answer, immediately at least. So they will face the Kangaroos with a similar set up forward of the football.

Like many, Geelong premiership forward Cam Mooney thinks Collingwood will eventually abandon the idea but considers it reasonable for the Magpies to trial the prospect, at least, that is until Jamie Elliott is ready to replace Stephenson.

Back in 2010-2011 we tried [three tall forwards] and in the end there wasnt enough room for the three of us, Mooney said.

Mooney, who was the key target inside 50 for the Cats from 2007-10 with support from Nathan Ablett then Tom Hawkins then James Podsiadly, said he was happy to trial playing alongside Hawkins and Podsiadly.

At that stage we were just experimenting so we were very good at everyone taking their turn, Mooney said. We were like that as a forward line anyway so for us it wasnt a big deal.

The trio played together in 15 games in 2010 including the losing preliminary final against Collingwood – when Reid was a key defender playing with the opposition – and four games in 2011 as the Cats won the flag with Mooney in the stands, having last played the three tall forwards together in round 20 of that season.

Ben Reid (second from left) with 2010 premiership teammates.

Ben Reid (second from left) with 2010 premiership teammates.Credit:Paul Rovere

Mooney said if all three Magpies stay fit it will probably be a matter of either playing Cox or Reid alongside Mihocek. With the importance of forward pressure and what it has done to the game and how it has turned it around I just dont see [three tall forwards] happening long term, Mooney said.

You might get away with it short term or for a month or for a few games, but I think on the MCG where teams have got the ability to really run and carry the ball out Cox and Reid probably arent going to work.

That the question keeps being asked inside match committees throughout the competition remains a football oddity because many share Mooneys views.

That didnt stop Fremantles Ross Lyon from thinking three talls were worth trying earlier in the season before Rory Lobb and Jesse Hogan were injured while Richmonds Damien Hardwick had a crack at Jack Riewoldt playing with Ty Vickery and Ben Griffiths before settling on a solo tall through circumstance in 2017.

Ben Reid.

Ben Reid.Credit:AAP

Melbourne played Tim Smith alongside Sam Weideman and Tom McDonald just last week but because Smith didnt have Reids reputation the Demons set up caused less discussion.

One former senior AFL coach suggested the structure can work if each of the three players have completely different attributes that complement each other, which is why West Coast were able to succeed last year with Josh Kennedy, Jack Darling and a second ruckman inside 50.

But few players have the running and aerial power of Kennedy and Darling, and its worth remembRead More – Source