Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell has revealed former teammate Cyril Rioli still remains distant from the club following attempts to reach out to the legendary small forward.
Racism in the AFL was brought back into the spotlight last month when Rioli spoke out about how his final years in the game were overshadowed by incidents off the field at the Hawks, affecting both he and his wife.
"I'd be up for helping clubs if they wanted me … I wouldn't go back to Hawthorn after what's gone on," Rioli said last month in a lengthy interview with The Age.
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Rioli, a four-time Hawthorn premiership player who retired in 2018 at the age of just 28, now resides in the Northern Territory.
With Hawthorn set to face the Suns on May 28 at Darwin's TIO Stadium, Mitchell said he's hopeful of rekindling his and the club's relationship with Rioli.
"I'm not sure [when I will next catch up with him], hopefully in a few weeks. We play in Darwin, I hope then," Mitchell told Nine's Footy Classified.
"We certainly want to have an impact up there. The club has been up working in Katherine, three hours from Darwin, for a long period of time… to try and embed ourselves in the community up there, we're looking to do some things in the future.
"I hope he will be part of that.
"He's a premiership teammate. I share some of my great memories as a footballer with Cyril."
Whether Mitchell ends up meeting with Rioli remains a mystery at this stage.
The 2012 Brownlow Medal winner said his attempts to reach out to the disaffected star have proven unsuccessful so far.
"Like going to any place where one of your ex-teammates and premiership teammates lives, you try to catch up with them," Mitchell added.
"Now if he wants to do that or not, I know I've sent him some messages before which you've reported on here. So, I've sent a message again and I haven't heard from him as yet, but we've got a couple of weeks. It would be great if we could catch up.
"But if not, we're still going to be very committed to what we're doing up there and I do hope he will be a part of it."
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