FORMER Essendon forward Dean Rioli has come out of retirement to play with Hume league club Osborne.
Rioli, a close friend of newly appointed Cats coach Daniel McAlister, committed to the competition heavyweight over the weekend in the highest-profile signing the league has seen since Richmond’s Craig Smith played with the same club.
The silky-skilled former Bomber has spent the past two years as non-playing coach of Aberfeldie in the Essendon and District league and is excited by the prospect of relaunching his career.
“‘Macca’ just called me at the right time,” Rioli, 32, said yesterday.
“I haven’t played for a few years and won’t be expecting miracles because it’s been a while, but hopefully I still have something to offer.
“‘Macca’ and I were very close at Essendon from the moment I walked into the club and we have stayed really good mates since.
“I’m looking forward to it.”
Rioli played his 100th and final match for Essendon in 2006.
He has since spent time with the Tiwi Bombers in the Northern Territory Football League and Melbourne clubs Keilor Park and Aberfeldie.
While McAlister believes Rioli can still make a major impact in the Hume league, he warned against placing too many expectations on the nephew of Richmond great Maurice Rioli.
“It’s been two or so years since Dean played so he’s got a bit of work to do with his fitness, but I think he’ll be good for Osborne,” McAlister said.
“Predominantly he’s going to help us with the development of the younger guys.
“He was best man at my wedding and we are god- parents for each other’s kids and it’s going to be fantastic having him involved at Osborne in my first year as coach.”
Rioli will travel from Melbourne each weekend and is hopeful of bringing several recruits with him as Osborne attempts to return as a Hume league powerhouse under McAlister.
Rioli’s signing continues the influx of top players to join the league in recent weeks after the signing of Wodonga’s Jarrod Twitt and Michael Lamb (Holbrook), Turvey Park duo Chris Cerato and Dane Campbell (Lockhart) and North Albury’s Kade Klemke (Culcairn).