Hawthorn president Andrew Newbold has compared Cyril Rioli’s potential impact in the AFL grand final to the famous burst from Stuart Dew four years ago.
Newbold has added to the speculation surrounding the Hawks’ selections this week, saying he thinks they will take a punt on Rioli.
Western Bulldogs star Robert Murphy also suspects Rioli will play against Sydney on Saturday, predicting a sleepless Friday night for the Swan who has to play on the Hawks forward.
Rioli’s latest hamstring injury has kept him out of the AFL for three months.
But he returned in Sunday’s VFL grand final and then put his hand up for a risky return to the senior team.
“I’d like to see Cyril play. I think he is a real X-factor player and I think we saw on the weekend in the VFL that he can have an impact just in 10 minutes,” Newbold said at Tuesday’s Carbine Club lunch in Melbourne.
“(We) saw Stuart Dew in the 2008 grand final … he turned it on for 10 minutes and won the game.
“I think Cyril will play.”
Newbold was referring to Dew’s devastating cameo for Hawthorn in their upset 2008 grand final win over Geelong.
With the game in the balance, Dew kicked two goals and set up two others in the space of a few minutes.
Murphy said Rioli’s freakish ability makes him a very tough matchup.
“I kind of think of him as caffeine – if your magnet (on the Sydney team whiteboard) is next to his on Friday, you are not going to sleep that night,” Murphy told Foxsport’s AFL360 program.
“You think `ooh, if he turns it on tomorrow, he can ruin my footy dream’.”
While Rioli’s fate remains uncertain, Hawks onballer Jordan Lewis has already declared himself ready for the grand final.
Lewis was subbed out of Saturday night’s preliminary final win over Port Adelaide because of a corked thigh.
He revealed that later that night after the game, he was wading in the water at St Kilda beach to help his recovery from the injury.
Hawks football manager Chris Fagan also has no doubt about Lewis for the grand final.
“He was pretty much recovered by Sunday morning and he’s progressed really well,” Fagan told the club website.
Lewis’ successful recovery most likely means that fellow veteran midfielder Brad Sewell will not be recalled for the grand final.
Sewell and ruckman Ben McEvoy were last-minute withdrawals from the VFL grand final.
Fagan said they were rested from that game to make sure Hawthorn have the best available players for Saturday’s premiership decider.
Earlier on Tuesday, Hawks star Sam Mitchell said if Rioli played, the team’s expectations would be straight-forward.
“For Cyril, it’s not about getting best on ground or kicking five goals or setting up five goals,” Mitchell said.
“It’s about whether or not we think he can play his role.
“That’s the decision and I’m very, very thankful it’s not mine because it would be very difficult to leave Cyril out of a grand final.”
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