WEST Coast premiership forward Willie Rioli will face court in Darwin on Wednesday after allegedly being caught with cannabis in the Northern Territory.
It is understood Rioli was due to fly from Darwin to the Tiwi Islands on April 23 when he was allegedly stopped by a drug detection dog at Darwin Airport.
Northern Territory local court lists show Rioli will face court on Wednesday morning charged with possessing a schedule 2 dangerous drug in a quantity less than traffickable (less than 50 grams) in a public place.
Rioli had been planning to fly to Perth in late April before putting his return on hold due to the state's snap lockdown following an outbreak of COVID-19.
West Coast said it would continue to support Rioli "at this stage" as the club sought all the facts around the latest alleged offence which could end his football career.
The news was met with a mix of shock and anger from Rioli's teammates, who were addressed by chief executive Trevor Nisbett on Tuesday morning.
Football manager Craig Vozzo said: "At this stage we're definitely supporting him, but we're still in that fact-finding process.
"It's obviously before the courts (and) we need to find out a whole lot more information around circumstance, how it happened, why it happened etc. It's all fresh information for us that we're working through.
"I'm feeling a number of emotions, and the club is. I'm feeling very disappointed, anger as well. But a sense of sadness too that this has happened to Willie. He's a good young man deep down and he's got an issue that he needs help with. So I feel sad as well as angry."
The Eagles were still digesting the news on Tuesday after only being informed by Rioli in the past 24 hours.
Asked if it was possible Rioli's career would be over, Vozzo said: "There's a risk of that. It's a balancing act between the feeling of extreme disappointment and anger versus a sadness".
He said the club would wait until Rioli faces court on Wednesday and that process is complete before making a decision on his playing future.
"[We will consult] with the key stakeholders, being the AFL, Sports Integrity Australia, the Players Association, and critically for us our board and player group," Vozzo said.
The alleged offence, which comes just over two months after Rioli received a backdated two-year ban for tampering with a drugs test, had forced the club to question whether it could trust the 25-year-old.
The 2018 premiership star was free to train with the Eagles from June 20 and play AFL from August 20.
"When this happens it really questions the degree to which you can trust him," Vozzo said.
"He has made some really poor and disappointing decisions through 2019 and this."
Vozzo expected Rioli had not told the club about his alleged offence until the past 24 hours because of a sense of shame and hoping the issue would go away.
He contacted integrity officer Peter Staples and has since spoken with coach Adam Simpson, who has recently appeared excited about the prospect of having Rioli back at the club.
The supremely skilled forward has engaged a local lawyer and barrister to represent him on Wednesday, while David Grace QC will be on hand to offer support. The Eagles will not send further assistance for Wednesday's court hearing.
"We've made sure he's got proper legal representation. He's got a very good solicitor engaged and a barrister engaged as well."
Rioli has been banned since the 2019 finals series after tampering with his urine sample during an anti-doping drug test in August of that year.
He was the subject of two investigations by Sports Integrity Australia, having also tested positive to cannabis after the elimination final win against Essendon in 2019.