Hawthorn haven’t put a start date on Cyril Rioli’s pre-season as the champion forward helps his father convalesce from heart surgery.
Jarryd Roughead led pre-season training at Waverley for the AFL heavyweights on Monday without Rioli present.
The Hawks skipper said Rioli could take all the time he needed before returning.
“I don’t think we should put a timeline on it,” Roughead said.
“In situations like this footy becomes second.
“We’ve always been known as a family club and in situations like this you need to be with your family.”
Rioli’s father, also named Cyril, suffered a heart attack in grand final week.
Since then, the 28-year-old has cared for his father in Darwin, shifting south only last week for surgery in Adelaide.
“We’ve had holidays but Cyril hasn’t had four, five, six weeks off like the rest of us,” he said.
“He’s been by his dad’s side the whole time.
“For him to get away and enjoy a bit of a holiday, it’s probably a good thing.”
Rioli was joined by Hawthorn’s international rules pair Jack Gunston and Shaun Burgoyne as absentees from the first day of pre-season.
The four-time premiership player was kept to just seven senior games this year by a knee injury.
With Burgoyne absent, Roughead looked around training and noticed something a little disconcerting.
“I’m the oldest,” the 30-year-old said.
“That is scary because all these young kids seem to be catching up pretty quick.
“There’s a lot of youth here now … with the faces we’re used to seeing around the place, it’s a different feel.”
Despite the early start and his lack of youth, Roughead wasn’t complaining.
“It’s been a long time (since pre-season started in November) but in saying that it’s pretty exciting because you look at the weather here today and everyone’s in shorts and a T-shirt and pretty happy to be back,” he said.
“We didn’t want to have that long break because of not playing finals but we’re back here today and everyone seems to be ready to go.”
The start date for their pre-season might have changed but Hawthorn’s approach to the draft, which takes place on Friday, hasn’t.
The Hawks, perennial trade players, will again be one of the latest starters in the draft after using 2017 selections to secure talent last season.
Their first pick is No.43, an improvement on last year when they selected Harry Morrison with their first selection at No.74.
Roughead said their lack of teenage talent coming in would be offset by the return of premiership stars Grant Birchall, Ben Stratton, James Frawley and Rioli – who all missed large chunks of 2017.
“I’m really not sure what we’re after (in the draft but we’ve got) five or six blokes coming back from injury mainly in our defence from last year,” he said.
“That’s the recruitment we’re looking at in our list at the moment.”