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Kennett, Hawks invite Rioli to Darwin game

Hawthorn hope former star Cyril Rioli (pic) will accept an invitation to their AFL match in Darwin. (AAP)

Hawthorn have extended an open invitation to four-time premiership star Cyril Rioli to attend the Hawks' AFL game in Darwin.

Rioli, a revered figure in the club's history, cut ties with Hawthorn after retiring abruptly, aged just 28, in 2018.

The 2015 Norm Smith medallist and his wife Shannyn Ah Sam-Rioli last month spoke out against the Hawks, saying race-related incidents contributed to his decision to call it quits from the AFL prematurely.

Rioli has been living in the Northern Territory since 2018 and is disconnected with a large cohort of Hawthorn's golden era.

The Hawks will take on Gold Coast at Darwin's TIO Stadium on May 28.

Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett has made contact with the Hawks great.

Rioli and his wife made it clear they will not return to Hawthorn while Kennett remains in charge.

"I have been in touch with Cyril a couple of times, we're moving in the right direction," Kennett said on Thursday at the launch of Hawthorn's emergency services match.

"Whether he will come to that game or not, it will be up to him at the time.

"Suffice to say, it will be a wonderful game and Darwin is a wonderful city.

"He has wished the club and me well on two occasions, whether that leads to him coming in a couple of weeks, I don't know."

After Rioli went public with his criticism of Hawthorn, the club issued a public apology.

"We are sorry that Cyril and Shannyn experienced these incidents during their time at the club," the statement in April read.

"We are saddened these experiences have left them feeling the way they do.

"Combating racism and educating everyone both within our own walls and in the community is something we are constantly working on and believe we are getting better at."

Rioli played 189 games for Hawthorn in a glittering career that began in 2008, including three All-Australian selections.