Friend no less a foe for Tiger old boys
GREATER Western Sydney’s Leon Cameron and Brett Deledio know Richmond’s long wait for an AFL premiership as well as anyone.
But they would love nothing more than to silence the yellow-and-black army at the MCG in Saturday’s preliminary final, with GWS two wins from celebrating their maiden flag, in season No.6.
Giants coach Cameron finished his playing career with four seasons at Punt Rd, including the 2001 preliminary final. That 68-point loss remains the Tigers’ most recent preliminary final, and the closest they have come to winning a premiership in 35 years.
Deledio played 243 games for Richmond, including three elimination-final losses, but moved to GWS last year.
“There’s no doubt it is going to be mixed thoughts,” Cameron said, when asked about Deledio’s mindset ahead of his first match against the Tigers. “He’s had some great memories at the Richmond footy club but I expect him to get down and get dirty.
“He’s going to come up against a lot of (former) teammates that he’s close to but when the ball bounces, I’m sure Lids will fulfil his role for us.”
Deledio spoke at the end of the regular season about the prospect of facing his former club in September.
“I left Richmond last year and we had a really ordinary year,” he told reporters.
“I’m just rapt for my close mates and the people I know involved at the club. It’s great they get to taste finals again.
“If we meet, may the best team win.”
Deledio, among the Giants’ worst in their qualifying-final loss to Adelaide, finished with 15 touches and a goal in the club’s semi-final thumping of West Coast.
The former No.1 draft pick played mostly down back against the Eagles, having largely been deployed as a forward in his previous five games for the Giants. Cameron praised the 30-year-old playmaker’s resilience during a season that loomed as a write-off because of a chronic calf injury.
“Lids is as professional as any player we’ve got on our list,” he said. “He just kept ploughing along and doing his rehab really well.”
Regarding his own history at Richmond, Cameron had clear memories of the club’s finals campaign in 2001.
“We got belted in Brisbane by a side that went on to win three flags in a row,” he said. “Thanks for reminding me. “I know how big the army can become.
“They deserve to be where they are, Richmond.”
Giants’ Brett Deledio celebrates a goal in the club’s thumping semi-final win over West Coast on Saturday