By Sam Watson

INVERLOCH local and ex-Leongatha Parrot, Zach Reid made his debut for Essendon on Saturday night.

The key defender, who was taken with pick 10 in last year’s draft, was given the full support of coach Ben Rutten ahead of their clash against Brisbane.

Before the match, Reid’s family joined him in the rooms where his dad Craig presented him with the number 31 guernsey, famously worn by club legend Dustin Fletcher.

Fellow defender Jordan Ridley also shared a few words of encouragement to the exciting young prospect.

“It’s a very significant achievement to play your first game (Zach), your family must be very proud of you and you should be very proud of yourself,” Ridley said.

“For me, personally, it was pretty evident as soon as you got the club that you had all the makings of a really elite defender in this competition.

“I think your VFL performances have been outstanding over the last few weeks so you thoroughly deserve the opportunity tonight and all the boys here will have your back and we’re really excited to see what you can do.”

Unfortunately for Reid and the Bombers, they ran into a Lions team determined to get its season back on track.

The Lions got the early jump in the torrential rain at the Gabba and from there the Bombers couldn’t quite get themselves back in it.

As a 202cm player, heavy rain was always going to be difficult to deal with, but Reid can certainly hold his head high after a solid performance down back.

He ended up with 10 disposals including five kicks and five handballs, and also five tackles.

Rutten was clearly con- fident in the youngster’s ability, leaving him on the ground for 105 minutes of the 122 played.

It’s safe to assume his spot will be safe for the massive Anzac Day clash against Collingwood, es- pecially after Ridley was ruled out of the game un- der the concussion pro- tocol.

Hopefully the weather is better for Sunday’s match

against the Pies and Reid can strut his stuff in front of his home crowd.

The number 31 is synonymous with longevity at Essendon so it seems as if the Bombers expect Reid to have a long and successful career.

Channel 7 commentator Luke Darcy took time to give the AFL heritage of the mighty Leongatha Parrots last Saturday night as the debutante got his first kick in the big time.

It was a scrubby old kick which nonetheless found its way to Dyson Heppell, the Essendon captain and another Parrots’ product.

Darcy made mention of Jarryd Roughead, Heppell and the Wallis family among others saying Leongatha had contributed strongly to the VFL/AFL over the years.

Reid was consistently in the play in defence as Brisbane pressed forward in wet and heavy conditions.

Earlier in the day, Reid’s older brother Kyle played for Port Melbourne in their loss to Aspley in the new-look VFL.

That match was also in Brisbane, so luckily enough the Reid family was able to attend both matches on the day.

Kyle also finished with 10 disposals in his official debut for the Borough.