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Rioli Inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame

Essendon great Michael Long has paid tribute to indigenous trailblazer Maurice Rioli after his induction to the AFL Hall of Fame.

Rioli, who won the Norm Smith Medal in Richmond's losing 1982 grand final, was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame at a gala ceremony at Melbourne's Crown Palladium on Tuesday night.

He joined the exclusive club along with triple premiership Brisbane Lion Nigel Lappin, Adelaide dual-premiership defender Ben Hart, St Kilda premiership full-back Verdun Howell, East Fremantle Sandover Medallist Ray Sorrell and Sturt seven-time SANFL flag winner Paul Bagshaw.

Long, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007, hailed Rioli as a pioneer.

"To win that (Norm Smith) Medal ... just how important that moment was and that game was to the Northern Territory - it was the start of so many bigger things," Long said.

"Maurice is probably the most significant (player) in terms of being a pioneer playing in the VFL back then, which was really important. It put NT on the map of Australian Rules football.

"Just his magical skills, his vision ... he had everything as a complete footballer. He was totally unique in the way he played the game.

"That's the inner quality that he always had that was part of his armoury.

"He was the Rolls Royce of Territory football."

Rioli, a trailblazer for his people, his family and whose name has become synonymous with footballing brilliance, suffered a fatal heart attack on Christmas Day, 2010.

He was the uncle of former Essendon player Dean Rioli, who accepted the award with Rioli's son Gavin.

Hawthorn's Norm Smith medallist Cyril Rioli and Richmond youngster Daniel Rioli carry on the family name at the elite level.

Hart is the fifth Crow from the club's back-to-back premiership era - after Mark Bickley, Mark Ricciuto, Darren Jarman and Andrew McLeod - to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

"It's pretty surreal ... it's come as a bit of a shock," Hart said.

"But to be recognised for what you were able to do as a player is fantastic and overwhelming at the same time.

"For me it was always about just being able to compete ... to be able to put the best as I could against opponents to see where I stood was my mindset."

This year's induction ceremony did not include the elevation of a current Hall of Fame member to 'legend' status, St Kilda and Sydney great Tony Lockett was the last member to be afforded that honour last year.

The class of 2016 swells the Hall of Fame's numbers to 269 inductees.


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