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Jack Riewoldt on Maurice Rioli, bench snub of phone call to Andrew McQualter, video, reaction, response, latest news

Richmond champion Jack Riewoldt has come to the defence of teammate Maurice Rioli Jr after bench incident, saying it’s been “blown up” and emphasising that footy is a “raw and emotional game.”

Tigers caretaker coach Andrew McQualter revealed Rioli apologised to him after the small forward waved away a phone call from him on the interchange after the youngster was subbed out of the club’s win over West Coast in vision that got the footy world talking.

Rioli has now been dropped for Richmond’s must-win clash against Hawthorn in its bid to keep its finals hopes alive, however Riewoldt insists it has nothing to do with the 20-year old’s phone call rejection.

And the three-time premiership Tiger empathised for Rioli over his act of “built up frustration”.

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“I think Andrew McQualter’s a fantastic person to have the conversation with Maurice, because he’s lived the sub role and been dropped as a player and had to go through that journey,” Riewoldt said on Fox Footy’s AFL 360 Plus.

“It’s obviously an emotional time and you know when you’re not playing great footy. There is a little bit of the cloud of the sub that comes over your head.

“Unfortunately for Maurice, he didn’t have a great game on the weekend and there’s a built up frustration.”

Riewoldt has his historical own act of defiance when he infamously — and bizarrely— crawled up the stairs during the Tiger’s clash with St Kilda in 2011 after being concussed in the first quarter in a bid to re-enter the game.

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The three-time Coleman medallist reiterated how emotion can sometimes can take over.

“I’m probably nearly one of the best people to talk about that because I had an incident — granted, it was after a head knock — where I sort of made a fool out of myself out on the bench and it’s been played to me every now and then,” Riewoldt added.

“But footy is a raw and emotional game. Yes, we would love for everyone to act in what we would deem an appropriate manner on the bench in all minutes of the game.

“Things just boil over. He’s a young kid who gives a crap about his career and gives a crap how he’s playing.

“Unfortunately that’s been blown up I think, the fact that it’s the last game of the week and all eyes are on it … we learn, we move on and we grow.”

The Tigers, who are 5-2 since McQualter took over from Damien Hardwick, will look to win a third-straight game when they face Hawthorn at the MCG on Saturday afternoon (AEST).

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