AAP AFL

Hardwick salutes ex-Tiger Brett Deledio

By AAP Newswire

Brett Deledio might have spent 2017 grand final day at Taronga Zoo rather than watching his long-term AFL club win a flag, but he'll always be welcome at the Richmond Football Club.

"He's a Tiger through and through," coach Damien Hardwick declared after hearing of Deledio's retirement from the AFL.

Deledio was taken by the Tigers with pick one in the 2004 national draft, staying at Punt Road for 12 years and 243 games of toil.

During that time, he never won a final.

A desire for a fresh start led him north to GWS ahead of the 2017 season; the same year Richmond roared to a come-from-the-clouds premiership.

As fate would have it, Deledio clocked his 250th game in the preliminary final that season, lost to the Tigers.

The next week, Deledio famously took his children to Sydney's zoo on grand final day rather than face the pain of watching his former teammates salute.

Two years and just 24 games later, the sublimely talented forward is hanging up his boots.

Hardwick, who supported his move to the Giants, said he felt for the 32-year-old after battling with calf injuries through his final years.

"It's hard and especially for guys such as Brett. He barely missed a game up until he was 28 or 29 and then the injuries have really cut him down in what really should be the peak of his career," he said.

"There's no doubt he's still capable of playing AFL footy.

"Unfortunately sometimes your body just deserts you.

"I've incredible admiration for a guy that was here for a really difficult first part of his career.

"He'll always be a Richmond man to us. He's a Tiger through and through ... and will go down as one of the greats of the game."