IT TOOK Brett Deledio nearly all of last season to get his calf right. Nothing seemed to work for a long time. The Giants consulted clubs in the English Premier League and the NFL, as well as Olympic programs all over the world, before the star finally returned in Round 20.
It was hardly the way he wanted to begin his time at Greater Western Sydney, especially when you add Richmond’s success to a tumultuous first season.
But now, five games into 2018, the dual All-Australian is humming again.
The calf issues that derailed his 2017 have been resolved and he has rediscovered the poise and precision that made him so damaging across 12 years at Punt Rd.
The 31-year-old’s past two weeks have been vintage Deledio.
He collected 28 disposals, 12 contested possessions against Fremantle a fortnight ago, before producing an even better performance against St Kilda on Saturday, finishing with 29 touches and two goals.
“I’m loving being able to play footy again because when it is nearly taken away from you, you forget how much you love the game,” Deledio said on SEN on Tuesday afternoon.
“It has been a while and the old confidence takes a fair old beating when you can’t do the things you initially could do when you were a lot younger.
“I’m just enjoying playing my footy at the moment, loving being out there with the boys and getting back to basics. Enjoying tackling and chasing and getting a hold of the footy.”
During a time where he battled one of the longest calf problems in the history of the game — only Harley Bennell’s has hung around longer — Deledio felt like he wasn’t living up to his end of the bargain.
“The biggest thing I battled with was my body wasn’t allowing me to do the things I wanted to do. I felt like I was letting (the club) down,” he said.
“Wayne [Campbell] had got me up here and I knew Leon [Cameron] prior to coming up.
“I wasn’t able to show the boys that I was here for the right reasons. I was spending more time cross training than I was helping them out on the field. It was an adjustment.”
Deledio credited the influence of English performance physiotherapist Mike Lancaster, who arrived at Spotless Stadium from English rugby side Worcester Warriors last year, for resurrecting his career.
“I’ve found what works in terms of keeping my calves in check and that’s got a lot to do with our guru physio here, who has come across from the UK, Mike Lancaster,” he said.
“I get a lot of dry needling in my back and into my calves as well. I just do that once a week in the back and once in the calves.
“My body’s feeling great at the moment so I can’t complain. I’m pretty boring now, I do the same thing week in week out and that’s what works for me.”