Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell has reached out to Cyril Rioli for a Top End catch-up when the Hawks make their first home and away appearance in Darwin.
The Hawks have told the four-time premiership player he is welcome to attend the club’s clash with Gold Coast on Saturday night, but they are unsure if he will make an appearance.
Premiership teammates Shaun Burgoyne and Cyril Rioli.Credit:Eddie Jim
Rioli’s relationship with the Hawks fractured over multiple allegations of racism he experienced during his decorated 189-game career in the brown and gold. He has said he would not return while president Jeff Kennett remained in office.
Club officials have spoken informally to Rioli but are expecting any reconciliation to take time.
Kennett last month told News Corp he has exchanged text messages with Rioli, whose wife Shannyn was upset by comments he made about her designer ripped jeans after a game in 2018. She told The Age she felt “belittled” and “humiliated” by the remarks.
Mitchell is hopeful he and his teammate from the 2008, and 2013 to 15 premierships can meet up while the Hawks are in Darwin. Any meeting will be in the role of a premiership teammate and not as the Hawks’ senior coach, Mitchell said.
“I’ve left him a message. [There are] two aspects, me the coach of Hawthorn trying to reconnect with Cyril, but there’s also Sam Mitchell and Cyril Rioli, premiership teammates, who want to catch up and say hello,” Mitchell said.
“I’m probably more focused on that one, to be honest. What he is thinking and feeling with the club on a big picture – that’s up to him.
“He is a premiership teammate, [and] we shared some great memories together, so I’ll try and catch him up there, but it’s probably not one for the public forum. It’s just one where I try and see if I can get hold of him while I’m there.”
Kennett last week told The Age he would step down as president at the end of the year, a year earlier than his term, which is due to expire in 2023.
Former AustralianSuper boss Ian Silk and REA Group (formerly realestate.com.au) chief Owen Wilson are the contenders to succeed Kennett. Silk had the backing of prominent supporters group Hawks for Change to join the board last year.
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