IT is one of the most recognised names in Australian rules football, and soon there could be another Rioli in the AFL. Maurice Rioli Jnr is boarding at Scotch College this year, while representing Oakleigh Chargers at NAB League level. The season might be under threat from COVID-19 that has forced the suspension of all competitions, but unlike his peers, Rioli Jnr has already got competitive matches under his belt. In fact, he has already played in a grand final this year, representing St Mary’s in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League.
Whilst Rioli Jnr’s Saints were ultimately unsuccessful against Nightcliff who went back-to-back, the experience no doubt proved invaluable for the potential Richmond father-son prospect who Draft Central spoke to at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me. At that stage prior to the decider, Rioli Jnr was looking forward to flying back home in the Northern Territory and pulling on the Saints’ jumper one last time.
While the start to the NAB League Boys and APS school football season will at the very least be delayed, Rioli Jnr said he was looking forward to getting stuck into the action.
“School footy’s good,” he said. “I love playing footy, but hopefully I get a few games at Oakleigh, so that’s going to be good.”
Rioli Jnr is at the same club and school as fellow Indigenous talent, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan who has been touted as one of the top picks in the 2020 AFL National Draft. The Northern Territory native said it helped with the transition to Victoria to be around players like Ugle-Hagan and another NGA prospect, Reef McInnes (Collingwood).
The question on everyone’s lips, especially Tiger fans, is will another Rioli be joining the yellow and black having trained there over the summer?
“I’m a bit open to my options,” Rioli Jnr said. “Like Tigers are the number one, but hopefully (I make it to the AFL). “The (Richmond) players, the staff down there are good. “They’ve made me feel welcome. “Very easily and quick.”
While the reigning premiers might have to wait a while to see if Rioli Jnr can run out on the field in any capacity this year, his work with St Mary’s – where he averaged a goal a game and was named among the best on a couple of occasions – showed he is able to step up on the big stage. Whatever the future holds for football competitions this year, no doubt the potential future Tiger will be doing everything in power to land at the club his late father Maurice became an icon at, winning two best and fairests and a Norm Smith Medal in the 1982 premiership.
HEAR THE FULL DRAFT CENTRAL INTERVIEW WITH MAURICE RIOLI JNR AT THE NAB LEAGUE FITNESS TESTING DAY BELOW: