Gunston predicting Rioli return to form

21 April 2017 11:56:50 UK

Cyril Rioli will soon be back in form for Hawthorn, insists teammate Jack Gunston.

Rioli has started the season slowly, mirroring the way the Hawks have gone so far.

Alastair Clarkson's side have lost all four of their games and sit bottom of the AFL ladder.

Rioli is one of a host of players who have been below their best, and it's a contrast to the way he went last year.

The small forward earned his third All Australian selection after kicking a career-high 47 goals from 21 games and averaging 13.7 possessions, 3.7 marks and 6.1 tackles a game.

This season he's well down in all those statistics and has only managed three goals in the first four rounds - he was held goalless against Geelong on Easter Monday in the Hawks' 86-point thrashing.

His possessions are down to 11.3 possessions per game, he's averaging around half the number of tackles of last year and he is yet to have a goal assist or take a contested mark.

Gunston, though, says Rioli is a quality player who won't be too fussed by the situation.

"It's not just Cyril that's been down, there's a lot of us who are struggling to get the footy at times and are just playing some poor footy," he added. "He's been a quality player for numerous years, he's an All Australian and he's played some great footy and got plenty of touches in heaps of games.

"I'm sure he'll come out, whether it's this week or next week, I'm sure he'll find the footy and kick a few goals, which will get the Hawthorn fans and us up and about."

Gunston, who has played in three winning Grand Finals for the Hawks, didn't manage a goal in the opening three games before kicking two against Geelong.

Having kicked at least 50 majors in the past three years, he concedes he hasn't lived up to his expectations so far this season.

"(I've been) finding the footy and working my way up the ground, but haven't been dangerous inside forward 50 in the first month of footy," said Gunston.

Hawthorn are 37/20 to win their next game against West Coast, who are 9/20.

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