The Christmases of small defenders across the AFL have come at once. No longer will they endure a sleepless night before playing the Hawks. No longer will they be left scratching their heads, asking “How did Cyril do that”?
You see, Rioli has co-authored a book revealing the football tips, tricks and drills that have made him such a dynamic player in six seasons so far.
Cyril has partnered with comedic writer David Lawrence to write children’s book – Fox Swift.
Fox Swift is an 11-year-old football star. When his family moves from the city to the small country town of Davinal, Fox has to choose which of the town’s two teams to join; the rich Dragons, which attracts all the best young footballers, or the Diggers, a struggling club that battles to field a side each week.
Following a run-in with the captain of the Dragons, Fox decides to join the Diggers, and even manages to recruit a few name players – two Sudanese refugees, the mumbling but super-tough son of a farmer and a girl who plays in a helmet to disguise her identity – and even a new coach. When the coach contacts AFL ‘magician’ Cyril Rioli, the Aussie Rules superstar agrees to lend his football expertise to the struggling team.
Rioli was approached to contribute to the book to provide footy speak to complement the laugh-out-loud storyline created by Lawrence.
Rioli says when he sat down with Lawrence to discuss the book he felt an immediate connection to the story – “It’s something I could relate to”.
Lawrence is an Essendon fan but still wanted Rioli as a character in the book.
“It doesn’t matter who you barrack for, if you love AFL football, you love watching Cyril play. He is spectacular, but also fair,” he says.
“And after meeting him I knew he was the perfect choice. He is a modest champion – a great example to kids that you can be incredibly talented without being arrogant.”
The training drills and skills included in the book are those Rioli grew up doing over and over in his Darwin backyard.
His favourite is the dribble-kick, something he still practices regularly in the AFL.
“It has what has helped me to play AFL, but most of all they are just fun drills and things that I grew up my doing with my friends,” Rioli says.
“I learnt them all off my dad, who is my idol”.
When it came to this master class element of the storyline Lawrence says there was no one better candidate to pass on his knowledge to the next generation.
“Cyril does things in big games that good players wouldn’t attempt at training.”
Fox Swift is an official AFL product and is available at all good bookstores from July 5.