Eagle Rioli keen to emulate cousin Cyril

Justin Chadwick
Willie Rioli wants to make a name for himself in his own right

West Coast goalsneak Willie Rioli wants to emulate his famous cousin Cyril by becoming a pinch-hitting force in the midfield.

Cyril Rioli has carved out a brilliant career at the Hawks, with the 28-year-old booting 275 goals and collecting four premierships along the way.

His ability to star in short bursts through the midfield has been critical to Hawthorn's success.

Willie wants to do the same at West Coast, but he knows he needs to build up his fitness base first.

The 22-year-old has already made remarkable progress in his fitness over recent years.

Rioli was overweight and playing with the Tiwi Bombers in Darwin a few years ago.

But after linking up with SANFL club Glenelg in time for the 2015 season, Rioli dropped a staggering 16kg, and was snapped up by West Coast in the 2016 draft.

Injuries meant Rioli couldn't be considered for AFL selection last season, but he has shown promise in five games this year.

Rioli's confidence is slowly building, and he wants to add some midfield duties to his arsenal down the track in order to help out the team.

"That's my goal - to get my fitness base up so I can have a few minutes in the midfield, just to help out Boots (Luke Shuey) and those guys," Rioli said.

"Just pinch-hitting, same as what Cyril does at the Hawks. I think I can definitely take my game to another level."

Rioli is quick to embrace his famous name.

VFL/AFL legends Maurice Rioli and Ronnie Burns are his uncles, while Richmond's Daniel Rioli is his cousin.

But he also wants to make a name for himself.

"In our family, we don't really judge who's the best. We go out there and play how we want to be known," Rioli said.

"We don't get too many touches, but we like to do the team things - little tap-ons and things like that.

"And if we can get a couple of goals on the board, and set up a couple, that's our job, along with tackles."

Rioli's friendly nature and ability to excite has seen him become quickly embraced by the club's fans.

The 175cm goalsneak is also well settled off the field, with his one-year-old baby helping him keep everything in perspective.

"He takes my mind off footy. All he wants to do is play. It's something I cherish," Rioli said.

West Coast are flying following their 5-1 start to the season, and they'll be aiming to continue their hot form in Saturday's clash with Port Adelaide at Optus Stadium.