Deledio just another AFL enemy for Tigers

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick is treating Brett Deledio as just another enemy, despite his “soft spot” for the former Tigers midfielder.

Deledio is set to play his former side for the first time when the Tigers host Greater Western Sydney in Saturday’s AFL preliminary final at the MCG.

The 30-year-old played 243 games for Richmond, twice winning the club best and fairest award, before requesting a trade to GWS last year.

While the trade went through, things didn’t exactly go to plan for Deledio.

The classy playmaker was sidelined for much of the season with a chronic calf injury before he made his Giants debut in round 20.

Hardwick revealed earlier in the year that he had reached out to offer support to his former vice-captain during his rehabilitation.

But with Deledio back to fitness and preparing to play his 250th AFL game, Hardwick wasn’t about to give him any further encouragement.

“I didn’t actually,” Hardwick said with a laugh when asked whether he had sent Deledio a congratulatory message.

“I think I texted him last week after the game but this week I’m pretty much low-profile with that sort of stuff when we’re playing people that we know.

“I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for him obviously, having coached him for a long period of time, (but) he’s part of the opposition this week.

“We’ll put some work into Brett, as we will the other players, and we’ll see how it ends up.”

GWS trained at the MCG on Friday, with Deledio restricted to stationary drills as part of his ongoing calf management.

Assistant coach Mark McVeigh said he expected the Giants to go in as named, with fellow veteran Steve Johnson also expected to play despite a lingering knee issue.

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