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A premiership full of emotion for Rioli

GF: Rioli in the rooms Cyril Rioli spoke to HawksTV after winning his third premiership with Hawthorn on Saturday.
Cyril Rioli celebrates on the final siren with Paul Puopolo and Bradley Hill.

SATURDAY’s premiership win might be Cyril Rioli’s third but the star Hawk says the Grand Final triumph over the Swans is the best of the lot.

A member of Hawthorn's 2008 and 2013 premiership teams, Rioli was overcome with emotion as he was subbed out of Saturday’s Grand Final early in the last quarter with his team 63 points in front and headed for back-to-back flags.

As he left the field he embraced Taylor Duryea, the man who would take off the green vest and take his place and too, Brian Lake who acknowledged the contribution Rioli had made to the win.

It was then, as he took his seat at the back of the interchange bench with the red vest on that the triple premiership Hawk allowed his emotion to spill over.

But it wasn’t just tears of joy and gratitude that overcame him as the reality of his comeback and place in another Hawthorn premiership team set in, it was also about redemption.

The quietly spoken Rioli has made no secret of the fact the pain of the 2012 Grand Final loss to the Swans still hurt and something that still motivated him despite last year’s premiership.

“No I can’t, it’s very hard to believe,” Rioli told hawthornfc.com.au after the game.

“To think back to 2012 and losing to Sydney, to beat them today, this beats all Grand Finals.

“The last five minutes were very emotional to think back to 2012.”

It was an emotional day and week for Rioli, whose hamstring was the centre of speculation and innuendo in the lead-up.

Ultimately though, as many doubted he could have an impact on Grand Final day, he was backed by the people that matter most.

Coach Alastair Clarkson said it was an easy decision to select him and Rioli was backed by the other coaches, fitness staff and his teammates to perform on the biggest stage, in his first game at senior level since Round 15.


Cyril Rioli hugs Coach Alastair Clarkson after the Grand Final win.

That belief though is indicative of the way Hawthorn is and the culture and values that its players, coaches and staff live by.

His impact was profound despite the stats sheet saying he had just nine disposals as he had a hand in a number of goals to his teammates if not setting them up himself.

Rioli, the ultimate team player who prides himself on the selfless part of the game – applying tackles and pressure – is the embodiment of the values of Hawthorn.

It was fitting then, that his first interaction with fans on social media in a week after would pledge his commitment to the team, the club with which he is now a triple premiership player.

At 8.26pm on Grand Final night, Rioli tweeted “brown and gold runs through my veins!”

“I’m very happy and grateful to be part of the Hawthorn Football Club,” he said with his premiership medal around his neck.

“(It) was just about playing my role and the thing I’m best at - applying the pressure and the one percenters.

“To have a third premiership under my belt, I’m tremendously grateful.”