THERE’S another Rioli on his way after Maurice Rioli Jr, the son of late Richmond legend Maurice Rioli made an impressive debut in the NTFL on Saturday.
Eligible as a father-son selection for the Tigers — where Maurice played 118 games, won two best and fairest awards and a Norm Smith Medal — Rioli Jr displayed all the traits of his famous relatives, including his legendary father and current day AFL stars Cyril and Daniel Rioli.
But Richmond could have a fight on their hands to secure the youngster when he becomes eligible for the draft in 2020.
Rioli Jr also available to Fremantle under the father-son rule after his father played 168 games for South Fremantle.
Under AFL rules, a player is eligible to be drafted father-son to either the Dockers (before 1995) or Eagles (before 1987) if the player’s father played 150 or more senior games for a WA club. One of those clubs for Fremantle is South Fremantle.
Rioli Jr, 15, booted one goal for St Mary’s in the thumping 73-point win over Waratah at TIO Stadium.
Playing across half forward, Rioli Jr lined up on the competition’s best player, reigning Nichols medallist Tim Mosquito, and didn’t look out of place as he used his pressure to set up scoring opportunities.
“He did pretty well, he certainly didn’t look out of it,” St Mary’s coach Ricky Nolan told the Herald Sun.
“He wasn’t the star player but looked every part of it out there for a 15-year-old kid it was quite amazing actually.
“If someone was saying to me how did he play? I would say he played like a Rioli.
“Defensively he’s very, very good, he’s a very good tackler.
“He’s very similar (to Cyril and Daniel and the Riolis).
“He kicked one goal in the last quarter. He got plenty of the footy and played well.
“He played about 80 per cent game time. We rotate pretty heavily up here because of the heat.
“We just had him go out there and enjoy it.”
Tigers legend Maurice Rioli was one of the greatest players of his era, renowned for his freakish skills.
Rioli Jr played alongside cousins Ben and Shannon Rioli for St Mary’s, while a large contingent of relatives travelled to TIO Stadium to watch his debut, including Hawthorn star Cyril Rioli.
“I think he (Cyril) was (impressed),” Nolan said.
“He wasn’t in the rooms before the game but he there and was at the club after the game.”
Maurice Jr grew up on the Tiwi Islands but is now attending the famous St John’s College in Darwin, a school that has produced a staggering six North Smith medallists.
Maurice Rioli, Michael Long, Andrew McLeod — who won the medal twice — Nathan Buckley and Cyril Rioli all attended the school before becoming VFL/AFL superstars.
It is understood plans are underway for him to relocate to Melbourne next year.
Cyril and Daniel both moved to Melbourne to board at Scotch College and St Patrick’s respectively before being drafted.
Rioli Jr’s potential has already been scouted this year after playing for the Northern Territory in the under-16 national championships against Tasmania.
While excitement is building at Richmond about the prospect of Maurice Jr joining Daniel in yellow and black, Nolan has urged for patience.
While the youngster is a confirmed starter for St Mary’s against Wanderers on Friday night, he will play a mixture of both seniors and juniors throughout the season as he continues to develop.
“He’s got a long, long way to go. It’s a long way from the Tiwi Islands to Melbourne and we’ve got to take small steps and not get too carried away,” he said.
“He’s got to be protected to a degree. For this to work we can’t put too much of a spotlight on him.
“He’s still a very shy young kid and the whole situation has to be managed very closely.
“We need to temper expectations. Kids have got to be kids.
“It doesn’t matter how well he plays, he’ll still go back to the under 16s sometime this year or the 18s, because he can play (under) 16s or 18s.”
Rioli Jnr will be eligible as a father-son for Richmond at the 2020 national draft.