Hawthorn great refuses club’s olive branch

Hawthorn great Cyril Rioli has reportedly turned down an offer to attend his former club’s Sir Doug Nicholls Round clash with the Gold Coast Suns this weekend.

The match will be played in Darwin, which is now home to Rioli.

The four-time Hawks premiership player has endured a strained relationship with the club following his retirement in 2018.

The AFL world was stunned when Rioli opted to retire at the age of 28 before details of an incident involving club president Jeff Kennett emerged.

It was revealed on Nine during an episode of the AFL Footy Show that Kennett had made comments about Rioli’s wife Shannyn over the clothes she was seen wearing at a Launceston airport lounge.

“Part of those complexities involve an exchange of words between the Hawks president Jeff Kennett and Cyril Rioli’s wife in the Launceston airport lounge about a month ago,” AFL journalist Damian Barrett revealed at the time.

Since calling time on his 189-game career, Rioli has had little involvement with the Hawks. He was famously the only player from the 2008 premiership side not to attend their 10-year reunion in 2018.

According to an SEN report, Rioli will now snub an invitation to attend Hawthorn’s match this weekend, with his reasoning behind that decision unclear.

Rioli has never pinpointed or made any suggestions Kennett was the reason he retired, but has since revealed his decision to return home to Darwin was due to family concerns.

“Dad had a heart attack in September last year. That was probably when I truly lost the desire to keep playing AFL footy,” he wrote for Athletes Voice.

“It was very upsetting. I’ll always remember the missed calls from Dad’s partner, Dayna, while I was so far away from home.

“I left the Hawks in a good place. They had a terrific season, making finals. It’s good to see another family member – West Coast’s Willie Rioli, my cousin – in a Grand Final, too.”

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