CYRIL Rioli would benefit more from playing in the VFL this weekend than returning from his lengthy hamstring injury in the seniors, says leading sports medico Dr Peter Larkins.

Rioli hasn't played since round five, when he badly tore his hamstring against North Melbourne.

The 23-year-old has a history of hamstring complaints, and the Hawks have understandably been very cautious with his rehabilitation.

Larkins said it made sense to give Rioli the opportunity to find his feet in Box Hill's clash with Williamstown at Box Hill City Oval on Sunday than inject him straight back into AFL action this week or next.

"It's my point of view, but [the VFL] seems like a logical way to get some confidence and game time in him rather than the risk of a high-intensity match, regardless of who they're playing," Larkins told

"I think it would be better for him to have a run after so much time off, just to get a kick and to test it out in a match situation.

"Training, you can't test a hamstring. He's spent all this time strengthening his hamstring, he's been trying to change his running style a little bit but that's been a minor part of it this time.

"It's really been the strength and the recovery and you just can't change your running style at his age."

The Hawks started Luke Hodge in the VFL this season, with the captain playing in a Box Hill practice match on the second weekend of the AFL's round one.

Larkins said it "would make sense" for them to follow a similar path with Rioli and not take him to Launceston to play the Brisbane Lions on Sunday.  

"My feeling is in terms of getting into competitive games, the choice is obvious; you play him off the bench in limited game time and he plays 50 or 60 per cent in the seniors, or you do a similar thing where you play him at 60 or 70 per cent at VFL level, like 'Hodgey'," he said.

"It was a sensible decision with Luke Hodge to run around at the VFL level coming back from a significant injury and to me, it would make sense that Rioli had the similar opportunity to play in a less stressful environment to get some confidence.

"If it's good enough for 'Hodgey' to do it, it's good enough for Rioli."

Jennifer Phelan is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow her on Twitter @AFL_JenPhelan.