Maurice Rioli Jr isn’t eligible to be drafted until 2020, but that hasn’t stopped Fremantle keeping tabs on the father-son prospect.
At 15 years old, Maurice Rioli Jr — the son of late WAFL and VFL champion Maurice — became the youngest St Mary’s Northern Territory Football League debutant in six seasons last weekend.
He booted one goal in St Mary’s first win of the season — a 73-point thrashing of Waratah at TIO Stadium — playing as a half-forward.
And Saints coach Rick Nolan revealed the Dockers were among “several” AFL clubs already inquiring about the Tiwi Islander.
“I know he’s on the radar already, I’ve had a few clubs contact me,” Nolan said.
Maurice Jr’s father played 168 games for South Fremantle and 118 at Richmond, meaning both the Dockers (150-plus games for eligible WAFL club) and Tigers (100-plus VFL games) can snap him up under the father-son rule in his draft year.
He has the choice of which club he would like to nominate for, or can elect to ignore both clubs and go into the 2020 national draft. But Fremantle will be up against it to lure him to WA, with the teen star planning to board at Scotch College in Melbourne next year.
He has several AFL-playing relatives in Victoria including Daniel Rioli (Richmond), Cyril Rioli (Hawthorn), Ben Long (St Kilda) and Jake Long (Essendon).
He is favoured to join his premiership-winning nephew Daniel in the yellow and black.
Nolan said Rioli Jr had earned his debut after a standout pre-season, and showed enough to hold his spot.
“He wasn’t best on ground, but he certainly looked the part out there,” Nolan said.
Nolan said while the youngster showed traits of his famous football family and “played like a Rioli”, there was a long way to go.
“He’s a very, very shy young boy and the whole thing has got to be taken slowly,” he said. “He’s got enormous talent, but we’ve also got to be sensible with the approach and the expectation with it as well.
“He’ll go back to our under-16s or under-18s in a couple of weeks and we’ll let him be a kid.”