Eagles take team stance to fill Rioli void

Justin Chadwick
Jack Petruccelle says it will take a team effort to cover for Willie Rioli in 2020

West Coast speedster Jack Petruccelle says it will take a team effort to fill the void left by star goalsneak Willie Rioli in 2020.

Rioli is highly unlikely to be available for AFL selection next season after being provisionally banned for allegedly tampering with a urine sample during a regulation drug test in August.

The 24-year-old has been a key part of West Coast's forward line over the past two years and his almost-certain absence for all of 2020 will hurt the club's flag hopes.

Rioli is facing a ban of up to four years, meaning he may never play AFL again.

Petruccelle is one of the players who is likely to shoulder a much bigger load in the absence of Rioli.

Fellow forwards Liam Ryan and Jamie Cripps will also take on more responsibility.

Petruccelle was a late call-up for last season's semi-final against Geelong when Rioli was suspended on the eve of the match.

But Petruccelle knows Rioli's brilliance isn't easy to replace with the 20-year-old saying it won't be up to just one person to fill the void.

"I think there's a few of us that could be able to stand up in his absence," Petruccelle said.

"It will be a team effort with all us small forwards."

Petruccelle wasn't in the initial travelling party for the semi-final against Geelong in Melbourne.

But when Rioli's provisional suspension was handed down, West Coast sent Petruccelle an SOS to come to Melbourne.

"It was a crazy 24 hours coming on the plane late and eventually playing," Petruccelle said.

"It was my first final, it was very exciting. I was very nervous, a bit of a different prep than usual."

West Coast led Geelong by four points at three-quarter time, but ended up losing by 20.

Petruccelle tallied just nine disposals and a goal in that clash, but he's hoping to hit the ground running in 2020.

The man nicknamed 'Sonic the Hedgehog' by Eagles fans for his sizzling pace hopes he will be even faster next season.

"I guess I was always pretty quick throughout school," Petruccelle said.

"I had a few fast mates as well, so I was very competitive with them and they helped me to get to the speed I run at now.

"Most of them play soccer. I went a different path."

Petruccelle highlighted his potential with a five-goal haul in the round-five loss to Port Adelaide.

He ended the season with 21 goals from 20 games - a strong return for a second-year player.