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From the draft to the cup: Daniel Rioli

Draft highlights: Rioli Under 18 highlights of Richmond's pick 15 in the 2015 AFL National Draft, Daniel Rioli.

In a special series leading up to the 2017 AFL national draft, takes a look back at the Tigers’ construction of their drought-breaking premiership team this year via the competition’s main talent acquisition pathway throughout the past decade. This morning, we focus on Richmond’s recruitment of Daniel Rioli.


Richmond used its first pick (No. 15 overall) in the 2015 national draft to recruit young, silky-skilled, speedy, small forward Daniel Rioli from TAC Cup team North Ballarat Rebels.

Rioli, the cousin of Hawthorn star Cyril Rioli and great-nephew of Tiger great Maurice Rioli, grew up on the Tiwi Islands in the Northern Territory and played junior football with the St Mary’s club.

As a 14-year-old, he moved to Victoria and boarded at St Patrick’s College in Ballarat.

Rioli had a huge 2015 season, which resulted in him rocketing up the national draft charts . . .

He was a key member of the St Pat’s College team that won the prestigious Herald Sun Shield,

played nine games with North Ballarat Rebels, and kicked four goals in an eye-catching qualifying final exhibition against the Geelong Falcons, represented the Northern Territory at the under-18 national championships, impressing in each of his three outings, and also was a member of the under-18 Allies team which competed against the AFL Academy side in the 2015 Grand Final curtain-raiser on the MCG, and was named among the best players for his quality display in that match.

At the end of the season, Rioli was a standout performer at the AFL Combine, demonstrating a top-class mix of endurance.

He won the 30-metre repeat sprints, finished equal third in the 20-metre sprint, was equal fourth in the clean hands test, equal fifth in the vertical jump and equal sixth in the three-kilometre time trial.

Post-draft, Richmond recruiting officer Luke Williams provided an interesting insight into how Rioli caught the eye of the Tigers.

“My first experience of seeing Daniel live was back in ‘Feb’ – a practice game for North Ballarat he was playing at Sebastopol,” Williams said.

“There weren’t a lot of AFL recruiters there that day, but those who were there – myself included – were going to watch some of the more higher-touted players that were in the AIS Academy. 

“I came back to our group of recruiters and spoke about these other touted players, but also mentioned that there was an Indigenous boy with the surname Rioli that I need to do a lot more work on. 

“He didn’t have a complete game by any means, but he certainly showed some traits that we felt we needed to find in this year’s draft. 

“So we tracked him from there at school footy and TAC Cup.”

Williams believes Rioli is exactly the type of player Richmond has been looking for . . .

“I think it’s no secret that the role we expect Daniel to play at AFL level is what the Club’s been missing a bit in the last couple of years,” Williams said.

“He’s a genuine small forward, who can make something out of nothing, he’s got blistering speed, and he’s got a real appetite to tackle. 

“They’re some elements of the small forward craft that are really important and we need.”

“The (draft) Combine just capped off his season, really.  We knew that he’s a very resilient character and very driven, even prior to the Combine . . .”


Daniel Rioli AFL fact file

Debut: Round 1, 2016 v Carlton, MCG

Games: 43

Goals: 38

Honours: Winner of the 2016 Cosgrove-Jenkins award as Richmond’s best first year player, member of the Tigers’ 2017 premiership team