Friend no less a foe for Tiger old boys

NT News - - AFL -

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.”

Pic­ture: CAMERON SPENCER/GETTY IMAGES

Giants’ Brett Dele­dio cel­e­brates a goal in the club’s thump­ing semi-fi­nal win over West Coast on Satur­day

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