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West Coast Eagles

Rioli excited for tussle with Tigers

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - JULY 12: Willie Rioli of the Eagles takes a mark during the 2019 AFL round 17 match between the West Coast Eagles and the Collingwood Magpies at Optus Stadium on July 12, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos)
Willie Rioli amassed a career-best 21 disposals and seven tackles against the Crows

West Coast dynamo Willie Rioli is embracing the underdogs tag ahead of a blockbuster clash with Richmond this Sunday.

Rioli has won on all four trips to football's mecca, including last year's Grand Final, as part of a side which has shed its hoodoo at the venue.

For so long lambasted for an inability to produce their best at the 'G, the Eagles are now gunning for their sixth straight win at the ground, which would set a new record for consecutive victories there by a non-Victorian side.

Rioli said the Eagles' tight-knit "brotherhood" was a factor in their impressive road form.

But facing the rampaging Tigers after seven straight wins looms as their biggest test. 

"They're definitely the favourites going into this week," Rioli said.

"We're looking forward to the challenge. Richmond are playing an exciting brand of footy and like us they're getting players back at the right time. We've got to be on our toes this week.

"Anyone who plays the game of footy you like to play against the best.

"I like playing at the MCG and I think a few of the boys do as well, so we look forward to it."

Sunday's match will also be the first time Rioli has crossed paths with cousin Daniel on an AFL ground.

"First time I get to play against him at the top level, so it's exciting," he said.

"(Performing at the MCG) is one of those things you have at the back of your mind, but I just want to go out there and play my role.

"Some days I won't have as good a day as you hope, but as long as I'm going out there and giving 100 per cent and playing my role that's something I pride myself on.

"It's every kid's dream to play on the MCG."

Rioli enters the clash in excellent form after working up the ground and gathering a career-high 21 touches and kicking a goal in a gritty 10-point win over Adelaide. 

He also laid an equal personal-best seven tackles and has rebuilt his fitness base for the lead-up to finals after suffering a foot stress fracture on the eve of round one.

"Missing that first eight weeks it was definitely a challenge and definitely put me back a bit," Rioli said.

"The last month I've been working really hard on not just getting the ball in my hand but my defensive running as well and try to help the team defensively.

"(Pushing into midfield is) something I want to work towards in the future and if I can help the team, improve in that aspect of my game."