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Grand Final team

GF: Team selection with Chris Fagan GM of Football Operations, Chris Fagan runs through the team for our Grand Final clash with Sydney.
Cyril Rioli of the Hawks celebrates a goal during the 2014 AFL round 06 match between the Richmond Tigers and the Hawthorn Hawks at the MCG, Melbourne on April 27, 2014. (Photo: Lachlan Cunningham/AFL Media)
Cyril Rioli.

CYRIL Rioli will play in Saturday’s Grand Final against Sydney at the MCG after being picked by the Hawks on Thursday night.

The star Hawk trained strongly on Thursday in front of thousands of passionate fans at Waverley Park and did enough to convince Coach Alastair Clarkson he’s ready.

Rioli is one of two inclusions, with ruckman Ben McEvoy forcing his way back into the team after a string of impressive performances in the VFL.

The unlucky players to miss out on selection are Jonathan Simpkin and Jonathon Ceglar, both of whom have been named as emergencies.

Rioli made his long awaited return in last Sunday’s VFL Grand Final, playing in his first game since hurting his hamstring in Round 15 of the AFL.

Despite gathering a modest 10 disposals and laying three tackles, Rioli had a hand in at least three Box Hill goals in a performance that impressed Hawthorn coaches.

“We were really happy with his performance last week,” GM – Football Operations Chris Fagan told hawthornfc.com.au

“Particularly his third quarter, we felt like he got back to some of his old form and he got a lot of confidence out of that.

“He’s raring to go for the Grand Final this weekend.”

After being omitted in Round 22, McEvoy has finally earned back his place in the team for the biggest game of the year.

Ironically, McEvoy knows exactly how teammate Ceglar feels, having originally missed out on selection for St Kilda’s 2010 Grand Final appearance against Collingwood.

McEvoy was dropped by the Saints in favour of hard nut Steven Baker, with then-coach Ross Lyon opting for Michael Gardiner in the ruck.

The former Saint ended up playing in the Grand Final Replay, however, after the Saints and Pies played out a draw and Gardiner was injured in that game.

Fagan said the decision to include McEvoy was based on the best team the Hawks believe can challenge and beat the Swans on Saturday.

“You get Benny McEvoy and you get Cyril Rioli into the team because we believe those guys will help us against Sydney to win this game,” Fagan said.

With the inclusions of Rioli and McEvoy, Fagan has labeled this Hawthorn side the best it has put on the field this year.

“We will have no excuses,” he said.

“It would be fair to say I think that we’re going to put our best team for the year out on the oval for the Grand Final.”

Veteran midfielder Brad Sewell has been named as an emergency alongside Simpkin and Ceglar.

Grand Final
Sydney Swans v Hawthorn
Saturday 27 September
MCG, 2.30pm

B: Gibson Lake Birchall
HB: Mitchell Stratton Hodge
C: Hill Langford Smith
HF: Breust Gunston Lewis
FF: McEvoy Roughead Puopolo
Foll: Hale Shiels Burgoyne
Int: Rioli Duryea Spangher Suckling
Emerg: Ceglar Simpkin Sewell

IN: C.Rioli, B.McEvoy
OUT: J.Simpkin (omitted), J.Ceglar (omitted)

Milestone: L.Hodge - 250 games