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West Coast Eagles

Shuey impressed with Rioli's rise

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 19: Willie Rioli handballs during a West Coast Eagles AFL training session at Subiaco Oval on November 19, 2018 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images/AFL Media)
Willie Rioli booted four goals against Fremantle yesterday

West Coast's electrifying small forward Willie Rioli is only just realising his full potential after getting into the best shape of his short career, teammate Luke Shuey says.

Rioli starred in the Eagles' 51-point victory over Fremantle on Sunday, booting four goals from 19 touches in a sharp round-one tune-up.

After famously shedding 16kg before being drafted at No.52 overall in 2016, Rioli was plagued by hamstring woes during his first year in the west.

But the 23-year-old kicked 28 goals in his debut season last year, injecting much-needed pace into the premiership-winning forward line, and looks primed to take his game to another level after returning to pre-season trimmer than ever.

"He's very talented. I think him and Liam (Ryan), we've been very lucky to get at the same time," Shuey said.

"We've missed that small, crumbing forward for a few years.

"Being able to go through the midfield and pinch-hit in there, a lot of people say it, but I think he's got a lot of similarities to Cyril, which is great for us.

"He was outstanding yesterday.

"He can do things most of us can't, so it's nice to sit back and watch every now and then.

"Obviously there was a lot of talk about him getting himself into shape, and now I think he's starting to realise how good he can be himself, but we're seeing what getting a full pre-season into him can do for players like him."

The Eagles' inexperienced attack has fired during the JLT Community Series, booting 31 goals in their two games despite missing spearhead Josh Kennedy (foot) and Jamie Cripps (toe).

Mature tall Oscar Allen has impressed standing in alongside Jack Darling in Kennedy's absence, while Jack Petruccelle's blistering pace has added more speed alongside Rioli, Ryan and Daniel Venables.

"He's quicker than all those blokes, which is exciting for us, and I've been on the end of one of his chasedowns as well at training," Shuey said.

"He brings another dimension to hopefully a quick forward line. He's performed well over the last two weeks and hopefully he gets an opportunity in Brisbane next week as well.

"He played a few games through the year (last season), and I think he's realised how quick he is and not many blokes can catch him.

"He's found new ways to try and take the game on and I don't think he needs a whole lot of footy to have an impact, which is nice."

Shuey expected Kennedy would take part in an intraclub this Friday and put his hand up for the trip to Brisbane, and was confident defender Brad Sheppard would overcome a corkie from Sunday's win over the Dockers.

West Coast's midfield dominated Freo at clearances (55-27), despite losing hitouts by 14, with Shuey back to his best around stoppages after overcoming an adductor issue.

The Eagles held a huge advantage at centre bounces (18-5) and look set to partner recruit Tom Hickey with Nathan Vardy in the ruck in round one.

"I think for us at the moment it's (two ruckmen) working," Shuey said.

"We're probably going to see a lot more free-flowing scoring from centre bounces, which is exciting for everyone I guess."