Please note: This story contains reference to someone who has died.

 

Northern Territory young gun Maurice Rioli Jnr has made an impressive debut for the Richmond Tigers on Saturday, kicking his first-ever goal in the AFL.

The 19-year-old is the son of two-time Richmond Best and Fairest winner Maurice Rioli Snr, who in his time as a player captained the Western Australian State team and was a three-time All-Australian and Norm Smith Medallist.

Family member and fellow Tiger Daniel Rioli wears the No.17 Jumper like Maurice Snr, and had the honour of handing his “little Uncle” the No.49 guernsey over the weekend.

Last Saturday the AFL also debuted fellow 19-year-old NT star Joel Jeffrey, who made his long-awaited debut for the Gold Coast Suns.

Jeffrey is the son of Territory legend Russell Jeffrey, who played for Geelong, St Kilda and Brisbane and also represented Victoria in the 1990 State of Origin game.

Although Jeffrey’s debut wasn’t one for the books, he landed his first goal on Saturday night against the Blues β€” making it a weekend the NT duo won’t forget.

Former Essendon player and Tiwi Bombers Club President Dean Rioli said he was proud to see the sixth member of his family making their debut in the AFL.

“Maurice has had to work extremely hard to be able to gain a spot in the great Richmond line-up, as he does have to compete for a spot against players like Bolton, Castagna, Lambert, Aarts and previously Daniel Rioli until he was moved down to defence,” Rioli told NIT.

“As a junior Maurice was always a tackling machine β€” as his famous father was and though he was never a high possession player he was definitely a high-pressure player who would pop up and kick a freakish goal or two.”

Rioli also of Jeffrey’s growth as a player and his superstar days when he was a junior, playing for the Wanderers FC in the NTFL competition.

“Watching him against the opposition he was taller, faster, stronger, smarter and more skilful, and was the player you placed in any part of the ground when you needed help,” he said.

“As he made his way into the senior team at Wanderers it was clear that he was a class above and was destined for much bigger things in his football career.

“The week before his Round 20 AFL debut Joel kicked nine goals in the VFL competition. He is definitely one player people will enjoy watching his development into something special.”

Rioli told NIT that both the players have grown up playing football with high expectations on them as they are both sons of NT greats.

“Both players were made to wait and earn their spots in the AFL team as they worked extremely hard to build their fitness base and gain the trust in the coaching and playing groups that they finally have what it takes to be called up,” Rioli said.

“All of the AFL followers will enjoy watching the development and journey of the two young men as they embark on their AFL careers and make their own mark as their Legendary fathers did.”

The Tigers have moved into 10th on the ladder sitting on 36 points, while the Suns are sitting at 14th on 28 points.

By Teisha Cloos