Star Hawk Rioli eyes 2018 AFL return

Dec 15, 2017 - 4:48 AM Hawthorn star Cyril Rioli wants to find the fun in footy again as he emerges from an incredibly difficult period of his life.

Rioli's season ended prematurely after seven games due to a knee injury but that setback paled into insignificance when his father suffered a heart attack.

The 28-year-old was granted indefinite personal leave in November so he could remain by his dad's bedside in Darwin.

But with his father - also named Cyril - on the mend following heart surgery, the four-time premiership player will return to the club in the new year.

"It's been a bit weird not starting pre-season but my dad means everything to me and to be able to spend time with him and try and get him through the tough times, that's been the No.1 priority," Rioli said.

"Obviously it's a late start to pre-season but I'm just looking forward to getting back into footy (matches). I don't know when that will be due to my late start to pre-season but I'm just looking forward to going out there and having fun.

"This year's been pretty tough with the injury and the family stuff happening but I think next year (I want) to just find that fun again and just play free footy."

Rioli's father is back home after two months in hospital as he continues his recovery.

Once Rioli has overseen his return to full health, he will turn his attention to returning to the field.

He has worked on his own program away from the club and the knee injury he suffered against Brisbane in round eight won't hinder him.

"Towards the end of the season, (the knee) was looking pretty good and it still is," he told the club's website.

"I've been able to run and train and do all the normal things.

"So the knee is fine and I'm just looking forward to next year."

Source: AAP

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