Could Hawthorn great Cyril Rioli make a shock comeback to the AFL?
The 34-year-old has sent tongues wagging with a cryptic comment on Instagram.
Responding to a Hawks fan account that posted a photo celebrating the four-time premiership player, Rioli left a GIF of basketball legend Kobe Bryant with the words “job’s not finished.”
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Fans were quick to spot the comment and Rioli added another reply saying, “no contract offers as yet.”
Rioli reached extraordinary heights for the Hawks, winning four flags, a Norm Smith Medal and three All-Australian selections during a 189-game career.
Cyril Rioli’s comment sent fans into a spin. Credit: Instagram
But he lost the passion to play midway through the 2018 season and announced his shock retirement at just 28 years of age.
It has since been reported he had a fallout with then-president Jeff Kennett amid racism allegations and he cut ties with the club.
Rioli was also unmasked as a key protagonist in the ongoing Hawthorn racism saga in the wake of the AFL completing their investigation in June.
He joined his wife Shannyn Ahsam-Rioli, former teammates Carl Peterson and Jermaine Miller-Lewis, and his wife Montanah, and former Hawks Indigenous manager Leon Egan in penning a shocking open letter in which they detail their side of the story so far.
While a playing return at Hawthorn would seem unlikely, Rioli could potentially link up with former teammate and now coach Sam Mitchell in an off-field role.
Any sort of return to the club would be a massive turnaround given last year he told The Age he would go back to any club but the Hawks.
“I’d be up for helping clubs if they wanted me … Richmond or West Coast … but I wouldn’t go back to Hawthorn after what’s gone on. It’s the only club I wouldn’t put my hand up for right now,” he said.
But nevertheless, even though it was just a Hawthorn fan account, perhaps the comment was a step in the right direction towards reconciliation for the much-loved champion and the club.