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'You can expect some magic': Jetta on Rioli

Travis King,  February 13, 2018 2:09 PM

Cyril and Daniel's cousin, Willie Rioli, is tipped to star for the Eagles according to Lewis Jetta

Cyril and Daniel's cousin, Willie Rioli, is tipped to star for the Eagles according to Lewis Jetta

WILLIE Rioli has learned the sacrifices it takes to make it at the top level and fans can expect "magic" when he appears in AFLX, West Coast teammate Lewis Jetta says.

Rioli has trimmed down after being hamstrung twice last year and missing out on a golden opportunity to debut when the Eagles were crying out for a crumbing small forward.

But the goalsneak – who is cousins with Hawthorn star Cyril and Richmond premiership hero Daniel – looms as a round one starter and his skills will be on show during AFLX this Thursday. 

"You can expect some magic. He's a freak," Jetta said from the Eagles' community camp in WA's south-west.

"He’s pretty similar to his cousins. He knows where the goals are and he knows how to kick a ball.

"He’s just adjusted to AFL life and all the sacrifices you’ve got to do off-field. I think he’s done that really well – the dieting and extra training. 

"Even just getting up early and doing more training. He’s been elite in that area."

The Eagles will be a new-look outfit in their season-opener against Sydney, with spots up for grabs after a list overhaul. 

Former Subiaco star Liam Ryan, who won't play AFLX due to the imminent arrival of his first child, has been Rioli's dynamic sidekick at training and is another likely round one debutant. 

"He’s fitting in really well. He likes to joke around. He’s pretty laid back and relaxed," Jetta said. 

"On-field, he’s a freak. He knows how to play the game and he’s kicked a lot of goals in the WAFL with Subiaco over the last two years. 

"It’s just the intensity and the elite level that you’ve got to be at, at the AFL level. The more he can learn that the better he’ll be." 

Despite an expected bunch of new faces, West Coast's main attraction against the Swans could be ruckman Nic Naitanui's long-awaited return from 18 months out following his knee reconstruction.

Whether Naitanui will feature in the JLT Community Series is unclear, with the 201cm big man still building towards full training. 

"Nic is travelling good and it looks like he’s hopefully going to play round one," Jetta said.

"We’ll just see how he gets through the next weeks."

Jetta, who was traded from Sydney at the end of 2015, put together his best block of football as an Eagle towards the end of last season.

The 28-year-old speedster was slowed by calf soreness pre-Christmas but is back on track and his dash and experience will be important to West Coast's evolving engine room this year. 

"It took me a little while to fit in and I’m sure that’s the case with most guys," Jetta said.

"Some guys fit in straight away, but with myself, Sydney and West Coast were two different styles and it took me a little while to get used to it. 

"I’m just enjoying my footy and loving the time I’m getting with all the boys. 

"I’m getting to know different patterns and different styles, how they play footy."