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Deledio Pushes Aside Retirement Talk

Brett Deledio reacts following the GIANTS' 2017 preliminary final loss to his former club.
I'm pretty excited about what we can do this year, my body's finally co-operating which is good, and I'm in a great headspace.
GIANT Brett Deledio on 2018

When a dejected Brett Deledio trudged off the MCG after the GIANTS were beaten by his old side Richmond in last year's preliminary final, the veteran thought his career might not see a 14th season.

The pain of watching his former club win through to a fairytale Grand Final appearance against Adelaide was gut-wrenching, with many of the Tigers' 22 that day some of Deledio's closest friends.

But the disappointment of the loss didn't trigger the 30-year-old's retirement thoughts, it was the battle he'd been waging - and mostly losing - with his own body for over a year.

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Lower leg injuries that had plagued the two-time Richmond club champion and dual All Australian left him wondering if the time had come for him to give it away. 

Deledio's calf troubles started when he was still a Tiger midway through 2016 and followed him to the GIANTS. 

He didn't play a senior game for the GIANTS until round 20 last season because of multiple strains with both calves, and while he'd managed to get back to help the club to a top-four finish with some solid form, an older issue resurfaced during the pre-finals bye. 

Deledio first encountered Achilles tendinitis back in 2011 and had managed it on and off over the years, and the GIANTS might have played it down at the time, but it severely restricted him during September.

Limping off the MCG as the Tigers faithful celebrated with their famous theme song, it was just about all a teary Deledio could take.

"It could have all finished for me I suppose, I certainly had those thoughts," he said.

"You think the game is starting to go past you when you get a bit older and I was just fed up with my body letting me down.

"I'd just got myself going really well (before the finals) then my Achilles got sore, so I carried that right through the finals and wasn't able to perform the way I wanted to. 

"It was a little bit embarrassing, being a pretty proud man I was disappointed I couldn't do what I wanted to do. 

"I'm probably being a bit too honest here but they're the things that cross your mind."

Deledio took a few days to get himself into a positive frame of mind after the season ended, but helped by a hunting trip with his close-knit family, his mind switched from his recent struggles to what his future could look like at the GIANTS.

"I wouldn't say I was chipper straight away, but I went away with my dad, my uncle, my two cousins and my brother, and we went away shooting for five or six days," he said.

"That was really refreshing to have some good conversations with those boys and realise that I still had the opportunity to achieve what I've always wanted to do, and that's to win that ultimate prize. 

"I've always been motivated and the flag is the thing that's always driven me to keep getting out of bed, that's what keeps me turning up every single morning. 

"I'm pretty excited about what we can do this year, my body's finally co-operating which is good, and I'm in a great headspace."

It's no surprise that he found himself nowhere near a television when the Tigers upset the Crows in last year's decider, with the Deledio clan taking advantage of Sydney's perfect spring weather to take in the sights of Taronga Zoo.

The man who was once a favourite of the Tiger army said he still hasn't watched the game, and probably never will, and while he understandably took some time to reach out to his ex-teammates after their flag triumph, he's happy he got to spend some time quality time with many of them over summer.

"I've still got a great connection with a lot of those boys," he said.

"If I had my time again I would've handled it a lot differently, but when you're neck deep in it all you don't really know how to handle it.

"I'm extremely happy for the boys and very proud of them, and I'm hoping that I can do the same."