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Buti's Call: Rioli's magical return for West Coast a joy all fans should celebrate

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West Coast fans would have been delighted to see livewire forward Willie Rioli playing his first game for the season in their comeback 16-point win over the improving Demons last Friday night at Optus Stadium.

Rioli was brought straight back in to the side without playing a game in the WAFL after recovering from stress fractures in his foot.

Willie Rioli is working the family magic at West Coast and made a successful return to AFL last weekend.Credit:AAP

Eagles fans and coach Adam Simpson would be relieved Rioli appeared to finish the game without major injury although he did return to the field after the quarter-time break with strapping on his left hamstring.

They would also be delighted to see Rioli’s silky skills have not deserted him. His first touch came after the 11th minute of the first quarter when he stole the ball from Demons defenders and cheekily dribbled the ball along the ground for a major.

By the end of the game, Rioli had posted another goal and will be all the better for his first hit out of 2019.

At his best, Rioli adds considerable crumbing and forward line pressure to the team. His presence provides great support to front-end marking duo Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling. In combination with high-flying Liam Ryan, they are one of the most dangerous small forward line duos in the AFL.

Willie, 23, was drafted by West Coast with their third selection and 52nd overall in the 2016 national draft. He came to Perth after playing with Glenelg in the SANFL.

After working hard on his fitness he was rewarded with a debut in round two of season 2018, remaining in the team all year, playing some brilliant football and finishing with 28 goals for the season and a premiership medal.

Rioli provides an X-factor to the Eagles team; a bit of magic.

Magic or mercurial is synonymous with the Rioli name.

The Rioli family, from the Tiwi Islands off Darwin, are football royalty and for South Fremantle supporters like myself, the name is very special.

Cyril Rioli torched the Eagles in the 2015 Grand Final.Credit:Scott Barbour

Willie Jr’s Uncle Sebastian “Sibby” Rioli was the trailblazer for the family, heading to South Fremantle in 1972 from the famous St Mary’s Club in Darwin. He had tree trunks for legs and was........

© The Age