Rioli, Puopolo set for Hawks return

Rioli, Puopolo set for Hawks return

Hawthorn expect to welcome back injured duo Cyril Rioli and Paul Puopolo for their round 20 clash with Melbourne.

The pair missed Saturday’s 19-point win over Carlton at Launceston where the reigning premiers relied on less experienced players in trying conditions.

After a slow first half the Hawks found some urgency and came home winners 10.14 (74) to 7.13 (55).

The side could have done with ever-reliable Rioli in the forward line.

He was a late scratching ahead of the game with quadriceps tightness and coach Alastair Clarkson said he’s not taking any risks on star players.

“He flew down (to Launceston), we thought he was going to be okay … but he just didn’t feel right and there’s no point in taking the risk – we’ve put ourselves in a good position where we don’t have to take punts on our players.”

Puopolo was still recovering from a hip complaint.

“We should have Rioli and Puopolo back in the side next week,” the coach said.

Rioli’s sudden absence made way for Blake Hardwick’s debut and the youngster pleased Clarkson.

“It’s great for these young players to come into a winning culture. It’s a good way for them to learn their craft,” he said.

The Hawks meet Melbourne at the MCG on Saturday.

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