Once they were the most troubled muscles in the AFL, but Cyril Rioli says a few simple tricks have put his hamstring woes to bed.
Rioli’s six goals against Geelong confirmed the triple-flag winner is back to his best.
The 26-year-old has played all but one of the Hawks’ matches this season, kicking 32 goals in the process.
His consistency in turning out for Alastair Clarkson’s side and producing the goods in front of goal can be traced back to the most gruelling pre-season of his career.
Rioli said putting the extra miles into his legs during the summer was paying off.
“In the gym, just working as hard as I can on my hammys and not taking it for granted, not taking any short-cuts … I think that’s been the main thing, just sticking to it,” he said.
“Putting a lot of effort into my leg stuff has definitely given me a lot of confidence.”
Work with Hawks head fitness coach Andrew Russell helped to identify the moments when Rioli came to breaking point.
“Most of the time when I did do my hammy was running at full speed and bending over,” he said.
“Now, I just soccer it off the ground or just slow it down that little bit.
“When I get fatigued, shortening up my strides, not over-striding (helps).”
Hawthorn need to win all three of their final home and away matches – against Port Adelaide, Brisbane and Carlton – if they are to stand a realistic chance of overtaking West Coast for a top- two final spot.
Only that would guarantee a home qualifying final and Rioli admitted his team-mates were barracking against West Coast on Sunday to try and make that happen.
“We were hoping that Freo would get the win over there,” he said.
“But it doesn’t matter where we finish, if we play the Hawthorn way we’ll definitely go a long way in September.”