Refreshed Rioli eyes Dreamtime AFL return

Richmond's Daniel Rioli has recovered from injuries suffered against the Western Bulldogs.
Richmond's Daniel Rioli has recovered from injuries suffered against the Western Bulldogs.

Richmond star Daniel Rioli is over the soreness that has dogged him of late and is ready to have an impact when the Tigers host Essendon in the Dreamtime at the 'G clash at the MCG.

Rioli was floored by a big hit in the first quarter of the loss to the Western Bulldogs then missed Richmond's round eight win over Fremantle as he recovered from a corked thigh and sore ribs.

It was the latest in a series of bruising bumps Rioli has worn this season, which saw the Tigers opt to bring him back via the VFL last week.

The 22-year-old passed the test with flying colours, his eight tackles in a win over Box Hill impressing coach Damien Hardwick.

"He (Hardwick) said that I had a good game, that I was back to my best basically, (because) I applied pressure and laid tackles," Rioli told reporters on Wednesday from Melbourne's Sherrin factory where he helped launch the specially-made balls that will feature in Sir Doug Nicholls Round.

"That's what he needed.

"I'm a small frame and I've come off second best nearly every week.

"I've been in the wars, but it's just part of AFL footy and I'm still adjusting to that in my fourth year in the system.

"But my body is holding up fine now.

"I got crunched at the weekend so that tested me but I felt fine after.

"I felt like I proved that I can cope and the body is fine. It's what I needed."

The Tigers have done well to have a 6-3 record after nine rounds in the absence of injured stars Trent Cotchin, Jack Riewoldt and Alex Rance.

But Rioli admitted to some frustration on an individual level at not being in a position physically to get his game going, with his average tackles and goals per game slightly down on his last two seasons.

While it's the tackling pressure that Hardwick would have found most concerning, Rioli wants to hit the scoreboard more often.

"It's obviously a bonus to kick goals and that's what I'm working on," he said.

"I'm trying to work on my craft in being able to apply pressure and cause a turnover or a holding the ball decision to get opportunities to have shots on goal."

Australian Associated Press