Willie Rioli of the Eagles celebrates a goal.
Willie Rioli of the Eagles celebrates a goal.

Tiwi training secret to new-look Rioli

Runs on rocky roads down to local watering holes in the Tiwi Islands have helped bring about a trimmed-down Willie Rioli, who is targeting more time in the West Coast midfield this year.

Rioli returned to training with teammates last week after spending his three-week Christmas break back home in the Tiwi Islands north of Darwin, which proved beneficial for both body and mind.

"The bonus up there is the heat and the humidity so I guess running in the heat definitely helps with my skinfolds," Rioli said.

"For me it's just reconnecting with my family and my culture and that's kind of a refresher for me, going back home. All the footy stuff I kind of park aside when I go back home. It's just all about my family and going hunting and stuff like that I don't do down here."

Rioli, 23, played 24 games on debut last year as a mature-age recruit, averaging 11.3 disposals and kicking 28 goals.

However, the small forward said he believed he could take his game to another level this year, spending more time pushing up the ground part of that.

"It's definitely something I want to add to my game," Rioli said.

"We've got a great midfield in there and if I can learn a little bit of craft off them each time it can definitely help take my game to another level.

"Hopefully this year I can get a bit more minutes in there and I've got great leadership in there with Luke Shuey and Dommy (Sheed) and Gaffy (Andrew Gaff) who have the confidence in me going in there."