Tiwi legend Cyril Rioli will don the sash and make his Tiwi Bombers playing debut in the side’s NTFL clash with Palmerston on Saturday.

Rioli joined the club as an assistant coach this year and after four games on the sidelines he has been named to pull on the boots at Tiwi Oval in a massive boost for the side. 

Rioli is arguably the Tiwi Islands’ most decorated player, having retired from the AFL midway through the 2018 season to return home after a remarkable 189-game career for Hawthorn.

Drafted at the end of 2007, the proud Tiwi man had an instant impact for the Hawks, kicking 24 goals in his first season to finish second in the NAB AFL Rising Star Award and playing a key role in the side’s premiership.

He quickly became one of the AFL’s most admired players, constantly impressing with his intense defensive pressure, while leaving fans in amazement with his silky skill and sensational athleticism.

He added three more flags from 2013 to 2015 and followed in the footsteps of his uncles Maurice Rioli and Essendon legend Michael Long in winning the Norm Smith Medal for his jaw-dropping performance in the 2015 premiership decider.

Rioli receives the 2015 Norm Smith Medal from Andrew McLeod. (Image: AFL Photos)

Rioli always had the Midas touch on the big stage, making the very most of his possessions and keeping every fan’s eyes glued to the play wondering what he might do next.

Injuries troubled the superstar throughout his career, but it didn’t stop Rioli from becoming an all-time great of the game.

He finished up his senior career with four premierships, three All-Australian selections, 275 goals and an AFL Goal of the Year success across his spectacular career.

Given his incredible experience and quality, Rioli will be an invaluable asset for the promising Tiwi Bombers this year both on and off the field.

Under the watchful eyes of new co-head coaches Shane ‘Tippa’ Tipuamantamerri and Jamie Scrymgour, alongside Rioli and fellow assistant Brenton Toy, the Bombers have endured a challenging start to the season and currently sit sixth on the ladder.

But a return to form a fortnight ago in a strong victory over St Mary’s and an honourable performance in last week’s 14-point loss to Wanderers will see the Bombers enter the clash against the winless Magpies with some newfound confidence.

The exciting clash, Rioli’s first competitive game since retiring from Hawthorn, will be held at Tiwi Oval on Bathurst Island from 1:30pm local time.

189 games
275 goals
4 x premierships (2008, 2013, 2014, 2015)
Norm Smith Medal (2015)
3 x All Australian (2012, 2015, 2016)
AFLCA Best Young Player (2009)
AFL Goal of the Year (2009)