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Daniel Rioli 'reckons he's got uncle Cyril's measure'

Daniel Rioli competes in the 3km time trial at the NAB AFL Draft Combine - ${keywords}
Daniel Rioli competes in the 3km time trial at the NAB AFL Draft Combine
That's what I take in. So I don't really care, I just be myself
Daniel Rioli

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DANIEL Rioli isn't an AFL player yet but he's already backing himself to do something most other footballers can't – run down his uncle Cyril.

The cheeky and good-natured 18-year-old is confident for a reason – he's already tested himself against the Hawthorn superstar.

"He tells a great story about chasing Cyril with a frog because Cyril doesn't like frogs. It was quite funny," North Ballarat Rebels coach David Loader told AFL.com.au.

"He reckons he's got Cyril's measure, which is a wonderful confident attribute to have."

Rioli dreams of playing AFL and he surged into top 30 draft calculations, thanks to a stellar NAB AFL Draft Combine.

The Northern Territory youngster registered the fastest 30m repeat sprint in 24.15 seconds (only .14 slower than Cyril ran in 2007) and stopped the clock at a blistering 2.89 seconds over 20 metres.

He claims that if they were running down a wing at the MCG he could catch his uncle "easy", but the young gun has a long way to go to match Cyril's exploits.

Rioli had one of the best seats in the house for the Grand Final as he watched Cyril slot two goals and set up four others to claim the Norm Smith Medal.

Earlier that day Daniel played in the curtain-raiser and took a liking to the sporting mecca, with the clever forward/wingman collecting 19 touches and booting a nice goal to be among the Allies' best players against the NAB AFL Academy.

"It was awesome," Rioli said.

"The ground was perfect; you're all suited up. I was happy with my performance as well.

"It topped things off with him winning the 'Normie'."

Rioli's eyes light up when speaks about his uncle, who has been a rock to lean on since he moved to Ballarat from the Tiwi Islands four years ago.

"In year nine I would go to his house often, every weekend," he said.

"My auntie Shannyn cooks a lot, but mostly we go out for tea or get a coffee. He takes us out to a restaurant or some nice place.

"This year I haven't seen much of him. TAC Cup has been full on and when you've got a bye you've got to stay down and train, so I didn't really see him much until (the Grand Final)."

Rioli went around to Cyril's house and caught a glimpse of his Norm Smith Medal but after a night of celebrations his uncle dozed off in a chair soon after he arrived.

The Riolis don't generally talk much footy, although they did chat about the combine.

Cyril famously struggled to complete the 3km time trial in his draft year, while the story goes that he only performed well in interviews with clubs he wanted to play for.

"I spoke to him about the combine and he said not to worry about it, just do your best and be yourself," Rioli said.

"He didn't do too good when he did the combine. He could've done better but he did average. Like he said he was lucky enough to get picked up by the Hawks and he's committed now."

Daniel Rioli in action during the draft combine. Picture: AFL Media

The Western Bulldogs, St Kilda and Essendon were keen to meet with the younger Rioli on the opening day of this year's combine. He supports the Bombers, where his uncle Dean played 100 games, and, of course, the Hawks.

But interest in the 179cm youngster continues to grow after his sizzling results, when he finished fourth overall in the clean hands test, seventh in the 3km time trial (10.09) and was adjudged the best all-round combine performer.

"Attributes wise, he's got the pretty complete package for a player of his size," said Loader, who has joined North Melbourne as a development coach.

"He's got exceptional speed, he's got very, very good endurance, he's got terrific agility, but he's also a very, very good kick – distance and accuracy – and he's got a great weighted kick for a player that's not a big guy."

Rioli missed round one of the TAC Cup season due to a pre-planned return home to NT, but booted 14 goals in nine games as the Rebels made it through to a preliminary final.

Comparisons with his uncle will be unavoidable in the countdown to the November 24 draft and it's something Loader addressed this season.

"We've always spoken to Dan about not being Cyril, about creating your own persona and your own brand," he said.

"I had a great conversation with his mum and dad about it. His mum especially said 'Well, he's Daniel, he's not Cyril'. That's what people need to get their head around."

While being related to Cyril, Dean and Maurice Rioli will always shine plenty of attention on the youngster, he is already philosophical about dealing with it.

"You hear that: 'Pressure on you having that last name'," Rioli said.

"But like Junior (Cyril) said to me and Dad as well, 'Don't worry about it, just keep that at the back of your mind, play the way you play, you don't need to be like Junior or anyone'.

"That's what I take in. So I don't really care, I just be myself."