The speed of Daniel Rioli’s development at Richmond has been as impressive as his on-field pace, meaning he will make his AFL debut in round one.
The story of one of the game’s most famous families will begin a new chapter in the season-opening blockbuster on Easter Thursday night when Rioli plays for the Tigers against Carlton.
As expected, Richmond could not consider front-liners Brett Deledio, Ivan Maric and Shaun Grigg because of injury.
Shaun Hampson will be their main ruckman in Maric’s absence.
Former GWS player Jacob Townsend will make his Tigers debut as they try to build more midfield grunt around captain Trent Cotchin.
Carlton also had plenty of selection news, with last year’s No.1 draft pick Jacob Weitering to make his AFL debut after an outstanding pre-season.
Former Adelaide players Sam Kerridge and Matthew Wright and ex-GWS pair Andrew Phillips and Jed Lamb will also make their Carlton debuts.
Richmond recruited Rioli with their first pick at No.15 in last year’s draft and he comes with an impeccable pedigree.
Great uncle Maurice is a Richmond legend, while Daniel’s cousin Cyril is a Hawthorn star.
Cyril was best afield in last year’s grand final, joining Maurice as a Norm Smith Medallist.
Dean Rioli also played for Essendon, while Bombers great Michael Long is another family relation.
Tigers star Jack Riewoldt is impressed with how Rioli has adapted since joining the Tigers.
“I certainly can see the growth in him, and the maturity in him, over the five months that we’ve had him at the football club,” Riewoldt told 3AW.
“Physically, he’s an amazing runner in terms of his speed and his endurance.
“The knock on him early on was probably his footy nous but we’ve already seen him start to pick those little things up.”
Riewoldt said Tigers star Dustin Martin and development coach Mark Williams had been big helps for Rioli.
“I know that Dustin has taken Daniel under his wing with his football nous and just teaching him the set-ups and about playing in the forward line,” Riewoldt said.
While the Tigers have lost Deledio, Maric and Grigg for Thursday night, they have named Shaun Edwards after he had a shoulder injury in the pre-season.
Likewise, Carlton included captain Marc Murphy, who did not play at all through the NAB Challenge as he recovered from off-season shoulder surgery.
There was little doubt that Weitering would play in round one, given his strong NAB Challenge form.
The top five draft picks from last November – Weitering, Josh Schache (Brisbane), Callum Mills (Sydney), Clayton Oliver (Melbourne) and Darcy Parish (Essendon) are all set to play in round one.
It is understood that if all play, that will a first since the draft was introduced 30 years ago.