Cyril Rioli has been given a taste of the defensive side of things in Hawthorn’s AFL pre-season clash with Brisbane.
Hawthorn’s embarrassment of riches was on show in their 131-point pre-season win over Brisbane, as the AFL’s defending premiers flirted with the idea of playing Cyril Rioli in defence.
The result on Thursday night was impressive, although Brisbane had rested almost all of their top players and were thoroughly outclassed.
Two-time premiership player Rioli had 19 possessions, eight tackles and five rebound-50s in a dazzling display at Etihad Stadium.
The retirement of 2013 premiership half-back flanker Brent Guerra and the absence of Grant Birchall from Hawthorn’s lineup for their opening pre-season clash left small forward Rioli facing an unusual assignment down back.
The 177cm Rioli kicked a career-high 39 goals in his All-Australian year of 2012 but hamstring and ankle injuries restricted the Northern Territory product to 15 games and 19 goals last season.
“He was pretty good back there so that’s an option for us,” Hawthorn assistant coach Luke Beveridge said after Thursday night’s win.
“With his athletic attributes he’s a very versatile player, Cyril.
“It could be an option. We know how lethal he can be up forward and he’s really developed his midfield game.
“So it will be a matter of what’s a priority for us.
“There’s a number of players who can play in that half-back area. Brent Guerra has retired, and we need to make sure there is some succession there.
“To see Derick Wanganeen (19 disposals and seven tackles) and the way he did tonight and Matty Suckling came back in, Taylor Duryea.
“There is some really good young talent there who can step up so we have got some options.”
Hawthorn’s next pre-season game is against North Melbourne in Launceston next Friday.