Could four-time premiership Hawk Cyril Rioli make a shock return to the AFL?
Brisbane Lions veteran recruit Luke Hodge has brushed off any suggestion that he’s making a play to attract Rioli to the Gabba next season.
Rioli, a great of the league’s modern era, announced his startling retirement last month, stating he would be proceeding to move back to the Northern Territory to be with his family.
Former Geelong and Adelaide player Ronnie Burns sensationally claimed on The Marngrook Footy Show on Wednesday night that Hodge, Rioli’s ex-teammate and captain, was wanting to lure Rioli toward Brisbane.
— Marngrook Footy Show (@marngrook) August 8, 2018
But Hodge laughed off Burns’ on-air remarks on social media
“ … first I’ve heard of it mate,” Hodge said on Twitter on Wednesday night.
“Would love to know his source though.”
🤣🤣 first I’ve heard of it mate. Would love to know his source though. https://t.co/u0Pd3NGDpU
— Luke Hodge (@LHodge15) August 8, 2018
On Thursday morning, Ramanauskas confirmed four clubs had contacted him regarding Rioli’s services, but absolutely nothing had eventuated.
“First I’ve heard of that,” Ramanauskas told RSN927 of Burns’ comments.
“I’ve had four clubs contact me on Cyril Rioli and that was probably two week after he decided to retire and there has been no further conversation from any of those four clubs.”
Asked how he’d left those conversations with clubs, Ramanauskas said: “No … No, he won’t be playing.
“He’s going to Darwin to live and to start the next phase of his life.”
"First I've heard of that. I've had 4 clubs contact me on Cyril Rioli and there has been no further conversation. No, he won't be playing."
— RSN Breakfast Club (@RSNBreakfast) August 8, 2018
Rioli, 29, is a three time All-Australian and has won a Norm Smith medal. He played 189 games, but played only 11 in his final two seasons due to ongoing injury concerns.
Despite all the rumours being thrown around, Essendon icon Tim Watson said it made sense for rival clubs to contact Rioli.
Why wouldn’t you pick up the phone and make that call?,” Watson told SEN Breakfast.
“I wouldn’t be shocked at all (if Rioli came out of retirement).”
Burns, who sparked the discussion, has this morning on SEN Breakfast said he was speaking more speculatively.
“I’ve got a good source from up north, obviously Darwin’s a small place and this person rang me and said there’s a little bit of a whisper about the Brisbane Lions (chasing Cyril Rioli) and I said that wouldn’t surprise me because of the coach who has a relationship with Hawthorn and obviously Hodge,” he told SEN Breakfast.
“Then it just came about and I said maybe Hodgey’s had a word with him and look we’ve all been in the system and I went from Geelong to Adelaide because of my relationship with Gary Ayres and I thought it wouldn’t surprise me.
“No one expected Hodgey to go to the Brisbane Lions and then it just came about so I just had a chat with a person I know where I’ve sort of got this information.
“I sort of just mentioned it on the Marngrook Footy Show and that’s how it came about.
“I’m not saying that it was Hodgey, I’m just saying maybe it was Hodgey because they played in a premiership together, but maybe my sources got it wrong.”
Regardless of what’s been said, Burns believes that the ties between Rioli and the Lions work quite nicely.
“Rioli being 28 and having some issues going home and that sort of stuff, Brisbane’s only three hours on a plane from Darwin, the weather, the young side, it all sort of just fits,” he said.
“I know he’s working up there as well so sometimes people come out of football and may just go through a phase where they probably miss it.”