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Suns coach plays down rumours of Rioli move to Gold Coast

Jackson Clark -

Gold Coast coach Damien Hardwick has played down suggestions that star Richmond defender Daniel Rioli could be joining him up north at the end of the season.

The Tigers' triple-premiership coach met with Rioli – who was celebrating his 27th birthday on the Gold Coast – for an 'innocent' catch up during the Tigers' break.

However, Hardwick told media that his meeting with Rioli was nothing more than just a "personal visit".

"I have a great long-standing relationship with him (Rioli)," Hardwick told News Corp.

"I've known Dan for 10 years – he lived with me for two or three, so it would be weird if I didn't catch up with him when he was up here on holidays.

"So yeah, we caught up and had a beer together – it was his birthday. It was good to see the great man.

Daniel Rioli has had an outstanding career so far for the Richmond Football Club. (Image: AFL)

"He's contracted to Richmond for life, I reckon, so it was pretty innocent from our point of view."

Rioli made his debut for the Tigers under coach Hardwick in 2016 after originally being selected with pick 15 in the 2015 AFL National Draft.

The Tiwi man has played 166 games for the club and signed a five-year contract extension in 2022 to remain at Punt Road until at least the end of the 2027 season.

After struggling for form in the forward-line during the 2021 season, Rioli was switched to the half back flank where he has been a revelation for the Tigers ever since.

The Territorian is coming off consecutive top-five finishes in Richmond's best-and-fairest award and was a member of the All-Australian squad of 40 in 2022.

When asked by a Channel 10 reporter of his thoughts on visiting the Gold Coast's facilities, Rioli dismissed any notion of joining the Suns.

"What are you talking about mate?" Rioli responded with.

"It would be a good holiday spot, that's for sure," he added when asked about his thoughts on living and playing on the Gold Coast.

Hardwick joined the Suns as coach at the end of last year and has had a solid start at his new club winning three of the first five matches in 2024, while the Tigers are struggling in 15th position.

Richmond champion Dustin Martin is another who has been tied to a move to the Suns, while their premiership teammates Alex Rance and Shaun Grigg are already at the club in off-field roles.

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