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Saturday, September 8, 2018

AFl finals 2018: Willie Rioli and Liam Ryan set to thrive on pressure

Willie Rioli has revealed how he has been helping fellow livewire forward Liam Ryan with the defensive side of his game in the build-up to tonight’s blockbuster against Collingwood.
Ryan didn’t play when West Coast beat the Magpies by 35 points at the MCG in round 17, but Rioli booted three goals to equal the efforts of key forwards Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling.
Rioli said Kennedy’s return to the Eagles’ potent attack for the first time since round 18 would be a huge boost.
“It definitely helps having him there,” Rioli said.
“He always adds that extra four or five goals, not just him but JD (Darling) as well.
“It’s a massive help and us smalls love it when JK is back and he’s the guy, if he doesn’t mark, he’s getting it to ground.”
Ryan, 21, and Rioli, 23, have formed a close bond this season, adding plenty of speed and unpredictability to the West Coast front half.
The pair have booted 42 goals between them in 2018. Rioli has racked up 50 tackles in his 21 games, while Ryan has managed 19 from 10 games, but laid four in his last start against Brisbane.
“We have got a similar type of X-factor,” Rioli said.
“He’s more of a flyer, I’m more of a on-the-ground type so it’s just trying to help each other out. I’m trying to help him with getting him to do more defensive work and it’s been a massive improvement the last month.
“It’s been showing in the reviews how hard he works off the ball. I’m pretty happy when he does all those long run-down tackles and you look back on pre-season and you didn’t really see him doing much of it.
“But it’s exciting to see when we’re doing that it definitely helps the team a bit more and gives the boys that extra edge.
“That’s something Liam and I are taking on board. When we do our defensive work, the team loves it. As long as we’re doing that, the goals and the flashy stuff will come.”