THERE could be another Rioli bound for the AFL in the coming weeks, with Richmond youngster Maurice Rioli jnr closing on a shock senior debut after an impressive start to his career at Punt Road.
The Tigers raised eyebrows when they named Rioli jnr, the son of the late former Richmond and South Fremantle champion Maurice Rioli, among four emergencies for last Thursday night's 86-point demolition of St Kilda at Marvel Stadium.
The 179cm forward then backed up his rising standing among club officials with another impressive performance in the VFL season-opener on Friday, where he won 17 disposals and kicked two goals in a 40-point win over Sandringham.
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Having been recruited to the club as a father-son selection with pick No.51 in last year's NAB AFL Draft, Rioli jnr spent the majority of Friday's game playing forward but also enjoyed several stints through the midfield.
He shook off a nasty-looking ankle injury in the second term, which forced him to spend an extended period on the bench, before kicking two goals in the second half and showcasing his relentless tackling ability.
Couple of exciting goals from Maurice Rioli Jnr ?? pic.twitter.com/LqDH7WbH79— Richmond VFL (@RichmondVFL) April 16, 2021
His first goal, which capped a mazy run through the forward line, typified his afternoon and demonstrated why Richmond officials are so pleased with the youngster's progression since arriving at the club.
"It's funny … Xavier Clarke – our development coach – showed a tape of the D1 edits, but I thought it was the Maurice Rioli jnr highlights tape," Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said after Thursday night's victory over St Kilda.
"He just tackles, tackles, tackles, tackles and tackles some more. That's the way a Richmond man plays and that's the way a Richmond forward plays.
"I must admit, I thought he'd be a fair way away. But he's not as far away as I thought. He's doing some really exciting things. He's got a bit of work to do, there's no doubt, but the steps are there."
Rioli jnr was eligible to join Fremantle as a father-son recruit, while he also could have chosen to play for Essendon via its Next Generation Academy, but opted to represent Richmond after moving from the Northern Territory to board at Scotch College.
The uncle of Richmond's triple-premiership player Daniel Rioli, the 19-year-old shot into the sights of AFL recruiters with a four-goal haul to lift St Mary's into the Northern Territory Football League Grand Final in March last year.