15/04/2024

Junior Rioli has made his offseason intentions clear by nominating Port Adelaide as his destination, with West Coast now looking to get fair compensation for the 27-year-old.

A coffee date with Shaun Burgoyne appears to have done the trick, as Junior Rioli wants to reignite his AFL career at Alberton next season.

It’s reported a four-year deal for Rioli worth just over $2 million has been offered, and it’s likely that the Eagles would not match what Port Adelaide has on the table. His potential arrival boosts Port’s small forward stocks as it was severely lacking at stages last season.

How does Rioli fit in at Port Adelaide?

Young stars Connor Rozee and Zak Butters are the next generation of midfielders at Alberton. Adding Junior Rioli to its ranks gives Port much-needed depth in the small forward position.

With Orazio Fantasia spending more time in the medical room than on the field, Ken Hinkley needs reinforcements. That comes in the form of Rioli.

As club great Robbie Gray has retired along with Steven Motlop, spots in the forward line have opened up. One that Rioli can most definitely fill.

Last season Port Adelaide, at stages, went very tall in their forward line. Having Charlie Dixon, Mitch Georgiades, Todd Marshall, and even Jeremy Finlayson all inside 50.

The small forward role was often given to the likes of Sam Powell-Pepper or Connor Rozee when resting forward. Robbie Gray also assumed that position but looked like a shadow of his former self.

With Rioli in the mix, Port has a genuine, dangerous small forward of the utmost pedigree. The 27-year-old is a premiership player and knows his way around goals.

In 2018, he kicked 28 goals from his 24 games, and if Port can get that kind of return while having the likes of Rozee and Butters play more midfield minutes, it’s a win-win.

What does Rioli’s arrival mean for Port Adelaide’s midfield?

In a nutshell, it will allow Rozee, Butters, and even Sam Powell-Pepper to get more midfield minutes without compromising the ground ball threat inside forward 50.

We saw what Rozee is capable of after his move into the centre square from Round 5 onwards. But in doing so, Ken Hinkley lost some star power and goal threat – not now, as Rioli is as dangerous as they come around goal.

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Rioli’s arrival will limit the impact of not having Butters, Rozee, and the likes not up forward. If Orazio Fantasia can stay fit (big if), then having Rioli and Fantasia mop up ground balls from Dixon, Georgiades, and Marshall, while still having Port’s midfield looking strong will have devastating effects.

Throughout his career, Rioli has averaged 12 disposals and a goal per game, which is not great, but certainly not bad. He gives Port Adelaide a much more significant threat on the ground inside 50.

What will Rioli bring to Port Adelaide’s forward line?

Not many players in the AFL have the guile, craft, and goal sense that Rioli possesses. Add to that; he boasts a superb kick when going inside forward 50, something Port has lacked over the last couple of seasons.

His ability to connect play between the arcs is also something the Power will be looking at utilizing as well. His superb foot skills, coupled with his incredible football IQ going forward, make him a serious weapon if used correctly.

A silky and smooth customer of his ability is something Port has missed since Robbie Gray became a little older and with Rozee’s move into the midfield.

If Rioli can get and stay fit, he will be a weapon for Ken Hinkley and add another attacking dimension to a Port Adelaide forward line that at times last season looked second-rate.

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