Big job for Hawks' Rioli - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Big job for Hawks' Rioli

By John Salvado and Robert Grant 23/06/2011 06:22:31 PM Comments (0)

Lance Franklin's latest brain fade has made Cyril Rioli an even more pivotal figure for Hawthorn in Friday night's AFL grudge match against Essendon.

Franklin has been told by coach Alastair Clarkson to eliminate the bump from his game after the errant elbow to the head of young Sun Maverick Weller last week ruled him out of the clash with Essendon.

With fellow tall forward Jarryd Roughead (achilles) gone for the season and ruckman Brent Renouf and key defenders Stephen Gilham, Ben Stratton and Ryan Schoenmakers also injured, the Hawks are severely under-sized.

Their response has been to name the outrageously talented Rioli, all 177cm of him, at full-forward.

The Bombers have taken a different tack, bringing back David Hille in a three-pronged ruck combination with Tom Bellchambers and Paddy Ryder, who will spend plenty of time up forward along with tall utility Michael Hurley.

Speedster Alwyn Davey also returns for Essendon, although key position players Stewart Crameri and Cale Hooker (both injured) and Kyle Hardingham (suspended) are unavailable.

"Essendon have shown over the journey that they've been prepared to back in their talls, and I dare say they'd be looking at our side and saying 'that's an area we can exploit Hawthorn'," Clarkson said on Thursday.

"We can't pick too many talls, because we just haven't got them, so we'll just have to make do with what we've got.

"If they win the midfield battle then that will make it very tough for our smaller players.

"But if we can control the midfield then that might make it tough for Essendon to exploit us with their talls."

Rioli has kicked 11 goals in nine games this year while splitting his time between midfield and the forward line, while Franklin leads the Coleman Medal race with 42 goals.

The Hawks' running brigade has been strengthened by the return of Chance Bateman and Brent Guerra.

With Franklin being suspended for the fourth time for near-identical bumping incidents, Clarkson said that due to his height, he had no option but to change his approach.

"It's just unfortunate that the height of his arms is so much taller than most players, he's got to tackle," Clarkson said.

"I think he's just going to have to change the way that he plays the game and take the bump out because it's costing him games of footy."

With Essendon desperate to snap a four-game losing streak and Hawthorn keen to retain their spot in the top four, there is even more than usual riding on the MCG clash.

"We said the same thing about two weeks ago when we played the Cats - there's always rivalry there when there's a history of grand final wins and losses," said Clarkson.

"There's a great history between Essendon and the Hawthorn footy club and that's all stemmed from battles in the past but mainly because of the 1983, '84 and '85 grand finals when both clubs were so strong.

"Whether they were second semis or grand finals they were just great games of footy - really hard, physical games and that's where traditions are built."

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