Hawthorn goalsneak Cyril Rioli hopes the club’s famed resilience will see them through the most challenging of times at the AFL premiers.
The club have dealt with a raft of issues on the way to three premierships in as many years, most notably Alastair Clarkson’s immune system disease and Jarryd Roughead’s melanoma diagnosis.
A recurrence of Roughead’s skin cancer has grounded the club once more but Rioli says the popular half-forward has his teammates focussed on football and improving towards the finals.
Rioli has endured his own struggle, missing the Hawks’ win over Fremantle due to an illness in the family.
“It’s been up and down,” he said on Wednesday.
“Going back home and seeing my grandfather was a bit hard … then coming back and hearing the news about Rough.
“Adam Yze’s mother (in law) passed away (as well) … it’s been a tough battle for the club over the last couple of weeks but we’re a resilient group and I think we’ll pull through together.”
Rioli said Roughead was likely to travel to Brisbane for Saturday’s match against the Lions given it was his great mate Jordan Lewis’ 250th game.
He reported the centre-half forward hadn’t shied away from helping out while he was out of action.
“He’s been round the club for a few days and just waiting on his test results,” Rioli said.
“He has been first class the way he’s carried himself being around the group, I think it helps him and his mindset.”
While Rioli praised Roughead’s role at the club since his diagnosis, he was critical of his own club’s form.
“West Coast (in round two) was the only game that stood out for us where we’ve actually played really good footy,” he said.
“The other games have gone okay.
“We still feel we have the personnel and the game plan to (win the premiership).
“Last year we didn’t do so well (at this stage) and we’re in a better position than last year.
“As long as we keep racking up the wins, we’ll see where we are at the end of the season and I think we will challenge in the finals.
“We’ve got a lot blue sky ahead.”