Wet phone protects Junior Rioli ahead of Eagles clash
Port Adelaide recruit Junior Rioli has revealed how a kayaking mishap has helped protect him from the bulk of the pre-match banter leading up to Friday's practice match against his old side West Coast.
Rioli, a premiership player at West Coast, will line up against his former teammates at Mineral Resources Park on Friday for the first time since his shock defection to Port Adelaide at the end of last season.
But if Eagles players have been trying to bait him ahead of the game, it's fallen on deaf ears.
"My phone fell in the water kayaking a few weeks ago, so I only just got it back," Rioli told reporters on Thursday.
"I've been on the ipad for a couple of weeks.
"I'm excited to get back over there and see some familiar faces and hopefully catch up with people who I had a lot to do with in my footy career over there.
"'I've still got a good connection over there. I left on good terms and I've still got all my good family and friends and people I talk to."
Rioli's career was almost brought to an end after he copped a two-year ban for twice substituting his urine during two separate anti-doping tests.
His return to the field last year yielded just 13 games due to injury, but he's taken his fitness to a new level at Port.
"Being in the system so long, you learn to listen to the guys ... like my dietician and the weights coach," Rioli said.
"I've taken more feedback from them. Before I used to shy away from that, I used to think I could play on talent.
"Now I"m leaning more on trying to get my body in a good shape where I can stay longer on the park and maximise my footy ability.
"I've focused more on the gym and what I'm eating at home.
"That's helped me not pull up tight at training. I've been able to recover quicker by having more muscle on."
Rioli has been inspired by hearing the stories of how other athletes, such as those in the NBA and NFL, have been able to get the maximum from their bodies.
And closer to home, former Hawthorn star Cyril Rioli played an important role in helping Junior stay fit and motivated during the off-season.
"We don't really talk about football as much. We just pretty much train," Junior said about his cousin Cyril.
"I had him and a couple of my other relatives train with us (when I went back home). A lot of hill runs. I'm grateful for that."
Rioli has high hopes for what Port can achieve, saying the club possesses enough talent to challenge for this year's flag.
West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui will miss Friday's clash with a sore Achilles tendon, joining Jack Darling (ankle) on the sidelines.