Scramble on to secure ‘Junior Boy’ for 2019
CYRIL Rioli's decision to quit Hawthorn after a glittering career in the brown and gold will bring a rush of interest for his playing services.
The player they call "Junior Boy'' crammed a lot of football into his 11 seasons and 189 games at the top level.
Four premierships with the Hawks and the 2015 Norm Smith Medal made him a marquee player in the national competition.
Rioli, who turns 29 next week, is also a three-time All-Australian with at least three years of his best football left in him.
Former club St Mary's heads the list of suitors, particularly when his cousins Shannon and Ben Rioli and Jack Long are Saints players.
New coach Brent Renouf was unavailable for comment last night, while Saints vice-president Peter MacFarlane said the club would give Rioli a few days to breathe before making contact with him.
Former coach Rick Nolan was a bit more forthright, saying he would give Rioli a "bit of space'' before making every effort to get him on board for next season.
The Tiwi Bombers are also in the picture, though coach Brenton Toy said Rioli's past and present links with St Mary's made him a "shoo-in'' to return to his old side.
The Rioli presence is still strong on the Tiwi Islands, but Rioli is likely to live in Darwin.
"Unfortunately for us Cyril left the Territory as a St Mary's player and his family's links with them are still very strong,'' Toy said.
"We don't expect him to pull on a red and black jumper, but if he did give us a call and said he couldn't train with us but was keen to play, I reckon I could find a spot for him.''
Territory Thunder has already come knocking, with AFLNT boss Stuart Totham saying they had made contact through Rioli's management group to see if there was an opportunity for him "do some stuff'' with the league.
That would include lining up with Thunder in the expanded NEAFL competition.
"Obviously it would be a fantastic coup for Thunder to have Cyril about the place influencing our young people and playing a bit of footy,'' Totham said.
"I'll be ringing Cyril's management and while it will take some time, we certainly want to put up our hand.
"We'll tell them we're interested in helping to support him if he moves back to Darwin.''
Totham is a Hawthorn supporter and concedes he is pretty shattered by the events of yesterday.
"But people make decisions for their own reasons and if it's not right for Cyril to continue and he wants to come home it's important we support him in whatever way we can,'' he said.