Contributed by: Wesley Hull
Legendary former Hawthorn superstar, Cyril Rioli, will return to the game in an assistant coaching role for the Tiwi Bombers in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL). After his seemingly sudden retirement from the highest level of footy during the 2018 season.
Since then there has been wide speculation as to whether Rioli would return to Hawthorn, return to footy in Darwin or simply remain retired and use his experience behind the scenes. The Tiwi Bombers are delighted that Rioli has chosen to link with the club that hails from his home islands – the Tiwi Islands – north of Darwin.
Rioli, who remained on the islands until he was eight years old, moved to Darwin and then by age 14 was boarding at Scotch College in Melbourne until being drafted by Hawthorn in 2008. Since then, a legend grew – four premierships, a Norm Smith medal, three All-Australian selections, 189 games and 275 goals (some the most memorable in AFL history).
Rioli left the game to spend more time back home with his family, driven by his father’s ill health for some time prior.
This week, “Junior” was announced as a part of a revamped Tiwi Bombers coaching panel. According to the AFLNT’s website “The Tiwi Bombers Football Club tonight announced that supporting Jamie Scrymgour and Shane Tipuamantumirri in their roles as NTFL Men’s Premier League coaches will be newly appointed assistant coaches, Cyril Rioli Jnr and Brenton Toy.”
“With Scrymgour and Tipuamantumirri both based on Melville Island, Rioli and Toy will help coach and facilitate from Darwin, where the majority of the club’s games are played.”
“Cyril needs no introduction; his football resume speaks for itself! His inclusion as our runner at the back end of last season was exciting, but this appointment today changes the narrative for the Tiwi Bombers. Junior takes a keen interest in developing our players both on and off the field, he has plenty beyond his football experience to contribute to the role.”
The Tiwi Bombers reached the Preliminary Final of last season’s NTFL Premier League. The addition of a legend, and a local one at that, could be the catalyst for even bigger things for the upcoming season.
The football world as a whole will be excited to think that a great of the game will return – maybe not in his famous Hawthorn colours, but still back as a part of a game he graced like few others. Like his uncles, the great Maurice Rioli and Michael Long (also winners of the Norm Smith Medal in 1982 and 1993 respectively), Cyril has already given much to the game.
However, it seems there might now be more to come. It remains to be seen whether or not Rioli will pull on a Tiwi Bombers jumper and return to the field.
Picture Credit: www.aflnt.com.au
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