Premiership forward Junior Rioli has told Nine News he wants to be at Port Adelaide next season, with West Coast reportedly unlikely to match the Power’s “lucrative” deal.
The 27-year-old is out of contract at the Eagles; a club that stood by him during his drug saga that ensured he missed two full AFL seasons as part of a suspension for substituting his urine.
He returned to the game this year, managing 13 games in a season where injury and personal tragedy took a toll.
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Rioli flew to South Australia on Monday and met with AFL great, and Power staff member, Shaun Burgoyne for coffee before heading to the club to complete a medical.
Rioli told Nine News that “hopefully” a deal can get done with Port, given he remains a non-free agent.
“Oh man, hopefully, we’ll see how we go, hey. See if my manager can look after me, work out a good thing,” he said.
“I’m not into the politics side … so if I could set myself up for the rest of my life. I’ve been through too much the last 18 months so just want to make the most of the industry I’m in now.
“Lot of decisions have been weighed up before I came back to footy. It’s just a bit slower now my dad’s not here.”
The Eagles had put an offer on the table for Rioli before his father’s sudden tragic death, which put that deal on the backburner.
Since then, the Power have pounced as they look to find a replacement for the retired Robbie Gray.
“You know to play the best footy, you’ve got to be comfortable. For me, I learnt that when I wasn’t playing footy. I wasn’t comfortable, I wasn’t stable, so if I could be stable, I know I’d get the best out of my footy,” Rioli told Nine News.
On his return to Perth, Rioli backtracked on his earlier comments to Nine News and said he was yet to make a decision.
“It was just to go check out the coaches and meet the guys really. No decision yet, just have a look at the environment,” he said at Perth Airport.
“I just want to play footy. I just rock up wherever.”
Rioli said West Coast knew he was “exploring” his options.
“If I do leave, I’ve got no hate on the club. I’ve got no beef. I learnt it’s just an industry at the end of the day,” he said.
“If I do leave, it’s not ‘cos I don’t like the club, it’s like any workforce – if you’re going to get paid somewhere else better or you’ve got a longer stint somewhere, you’re going to move not just for yourself but for your family.”
It’s reported Port Adelaide are prepared to offer Rioli a multi-year lucrative deal.