Brett Deledio has played three elimination finals in his 13 seasons of football and found the experience to be, well, exactly as promised. “Three elimination finals and so far zip and three,” he said ruefully.
But the veteran is clear-eyed about the cards football has dealt him. After 12 years at Richmond he fell into the Giants’ lap and finds himself in the finals for the first time without sudden death lingering on the other side of the final siren.
There’s an irony of sorts because the Tigers, the side he played 240 games for, sit one spot above his new club and have a double chance also.
“I am just rapt for my close mates and the people that I know involved in the club,” Deledio said.
“It’s great that they get to taste finals again. It’s completely different for me; I am at a new club and we are in the top four and have given ourselves a double chance, which is great.”
And should the two sides meet?
“May the best team win,” he said. “I’m excited mate to be honest; I haven’t finished top-four before. It’s nice knowing that you have that double chance, but I am hoping we don’t need it.
“We’ve got some things to work on coming into this game against Adelaide; they are top of the table and the team you want to knock off. (There’s) nothing better than going over there as an underdog and sticking it to their crowd, which will be 50,000-strong no doubt.”
Richmond were eliminated by Carlton (2013), Port Adelaide (2014), and North Melbourne (2015). Asked about memories, Deledio said he had tried “to eradicate most of them”. You always remember your first time, however.
“My first final was completely different to any other game I have ever played in,” he said. “There were 94,000 people; tingles down your spine sort of stuff, but we played pretty ordinary in all three finals as a team.
“You always want to be known as a big-game player and that’s what I want to do, come out and play a role and perform at my best.”
Deledio has been frustrated by calf injuries for the past two season, sneaking in just 12 games last year and seven this. He has, however, regained fitness and consistency at the right time of the year. He’s also finding out how to play as a Giant.
“I am recovering really well, which is probably the most pleasing part for me, but I probably underestimated how hard my first game was going to be,” he said.
“New team, 12 months out I thought I would just roll out there and be like Cuzzy (Ben Cousins) when he made his return — 38 and a couple of goals — it was probably 30 disposals short of that. Baby steps.
“I am feeling a lot more comfortable every game I play, I am learning what the boys do and they are learning what positions I am going to be in. If I can do my job, set up well, make good decisions when I have got it, defend well that’s my job done.
“I am just excited to be able to play among these boys and share some of my experience with them.”