Former West Coast player Xavier Ellis believes if West Coast retain Willie Rioli in 2022 the fallout would see reliable teammates’ careers unfairly impacted.
2018 premiership forward, Rioli, escaped conviction for drug possession in Darwin today but attention now turns to his club and how they’ll respond to the incident at Darwin Airport last month.
On today’s episode of the Hard Ball Gets AFL Show former premiership player with Hawthorn, Ellis, implored the Eagles to continue to support the troubled forward but believed there may be alternative options that don’t punish players who have only done the right thing.
“Help Willie, 100 per cent help him,” Ellis told the Hard Ball Gets AFL Show.
“There’s a West Coast WAFL side, he can go get a job at Hungry Jacks, he can do his drug testing, work at the club or whatever it is, but I don’t think you need to be taking a $300-400,000 spot from player 15 to 40.”
“That’s four c***-ups and it really pisses me off when you’re a player, that 90 per cent of the time goes to 10 per cent of the players.
More Rioli drug saga:
“It does start to piss off a large majority of the players who are looking for a bit of attention, a bit of help, trying to get ahead, get a game and a match payment. You have a bloke, two years suspended, now taking more time and more limelight off the footy club that is trying to do the right things.
“Player 25 to 30 who is just scrapping away and doing everything right but knows he’s going to get delisted at the end of the year and they’re going to tack another year onto Willie. That’s a spot for a clubman not for someone that might have an issue or not.”
Ellis’ comment follows former Western Bulldogs great Bob Murphy pleading for the Tiwi Islands product’s AFL career to be kept alive at West Coast.
“We’re talking about the welfare of a young man and secondary, the footy career,” Murphy said.
“Both I think would be better served if he’s back at the West Coast Eagles.
“He’s had a traumatic couple of years. I hope footy and the West Coast Eagles give him a second chance.”