Joel Selwood departed with his beloved No.14 guernsey at the AFL draft on Monday night, amid some extraordinary scenes involving GWS recruit Phoenix Gothard. As expected, West Coast picked Harley Reid with the No.1 overall pick, but the real action occurred later in the first round.
The Geelong Cats selected Connor O'Sullivan with the 11th pick, with retired captain Selwood presenting him with his jumper on stage. In a touching gesture, Selwood handed over the No.14 guernsey that he wore throughout his 16-year, 355-game career.
'NOT REQUIRED': Jack Ginnivan under fire over pre-season decision
'HEART FEELS HEAVY': Gary Ablett and wife in heartbreaking development
O'Sullivan was then chatting to Selwood behind the scenes when he got the shock of his life to hear the name of his best friend Gothard called out. The Murray Bushrangers product was expected to go around the 30 mark, but the Giants stunned everyone when they took him with pick 12.
Gothard was mobbed by his mates - including O'Sullivan - who quickly left his chat with Selwood to join the celebrations. Gothard's friends ripped the shirt off his back and he had to borrow O'Sullivan's Murray Bushrangers polo to head up on stage, where he was presented his GWS guernsey by Phil Davis.
— Geelong Cats (@GeelongCats) November 20, 2023
"Phoenix is a small forward that we feel is a great fit for us," Giants recruiting manager Adrian Caruso said. "He plays in a way that suits the style we have adopted over the past 12 months, and he has attributes to succeed at the next level.
"Given it was his first year in the program this year we feel he will go to another level when in a full-time environment. He's a player of talent in the front half, he can dazzle and weave his way out of trouble as well as anyone ."
The remarkable scenes with Gothard and his friends were described as "absolute mayhem" on social media. Others said it was one of the best moment in AFL draft history.
Harley Reid eager to help West Coast out of doldrums
As expected, 18-year-old Victorian midfielder Reid was picked first by the Eagles at Marvel Stadium as West Coast swatted away trade bids by rival clubs for the top selection. North Melbourne took Tasmanian on-baller Colby McKercher with the second pick - the first of their five first-round selections.
Gold Coast matched rival bids on academy talents Jed Walter (pick three) and Ethan Read (nine), Jake Rogers (14) and Will Graham (26). Reid, who hails from Tongala in Victoria's Goulburn Valley region, is arguably the most-hyped draftee in AFL history and viewed by many recruiters as a generational talent.
The teen sensation has been forced to deny speculation he isn't keen to leave Victoria, particularly considering West Coast have won just five games in two years. "It was pretty annoying at times when they say it and they really haven't even met you," Reid said on Monday night. "It (the Eagles jumper) is on me now, so hopefully that puts a bit of word out there that I'm keen to go over there and get stuck into it."
Nic Naitanui handed over the No.9 guernsey to Reid, which he and fellow Eagles great Ben Cousins wore during their illustrious careers. "It's huge. To see the history and what's behind it and to add to it is something that's going to motivate me to get to the next level and improve each week," Reid said. "It's something that I'll remind myself of, what's on my back. It's not just a number, it's got a lot of meaning behind it."
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.