Number 3 – Brett Deledio
Career Games: 150
Draft & Trade History: Pick #1 in the 2004 National Draft
The youthfulness of Richmond’s list is revealed when you consider that despite Brett being only 24 years old, with 150 games under his belt Deledio is now considered one of the senior players on Richmond’s list. Deledio is one of two players still remaining on our list from the 2004 National Draft, which is a definite relief considering he was selected with the number one pick overall. Since being drafted, Deledio has managed to play all but four games over his seven year career to date, a remarkable testament to Lids’ durability and worth to the team.
Since being drafted, Richmond fans have often had lofty expectation for Brett. In his first season Deledio managed to meet these expectations by taking out the Rising Star award after spending the majority of his time in the midfield. In the years that followed though opposition teams began to pay more attention to Brett and as there were no other players quite as damaging as he is, coaches often placed a hard tag on the young midfielder. Brett seemed to struggle somewhat with these tags and as a result his impact on the game was diminished somewhat.
Deledio’s importance to the Richmond side was highlighted when he managed to win back to back Jack Dyer medals as Richmond’s best and fairest player in 2008 and 2009. Lids could also consider himself unlucky not to win three in a row after falling just short of Jack Riewoldt in 2010. The coaches valued greatly Deledio’s speed and kicking prowess and in a subpar team, his talent stood out above all.
A switch to half back in recent seasons has seen Richmond use Brett’s elite kicking skills to great effect. Quite often Deledio has been used as the go to man to use his skills to spot up a man further down the field. Brett’s run and carry from the backline has also been invaluable to the team in this period and his rise up the AFL ranks is highlighted by the fact he has been nominated for the All Australian squad of 40 players in the last two seasons.
While this move to half back has been necessary for Richmond, the recruitment of players of the ilk of Bachar Houli, Steven Morris, Brandon Ellis and Jake Batchelor has now allowed Richmond to free Deledio up by shifting him back to the middle of the ground. By teaming Lids up with Martin and Cotchin, Richmond now find that they have one of the more youthful but deadly midfields in the league. Lids’ switch to the midfield will also allow Brett to become more of a goalkicking threat, especially so when you consider that Deledio can slot a running goal from beyond fifty with ease.
Deledio always places high in the Richmond best and fairest awards but his switch to the midfield this season may see Brett’s potential truly unlocked. Teams will not be able to tag all three of Martin, Cotchin and Deledio at once and at least one of them should be able to get off the chain in every match.
After recovering from a preseason hamstring injury, Brett’s one preseason match was particularly impressive, kicking several goals and racking up the disposals across the midfield. In 2012 it will be great to see Deledio once again use his pace through to burn off opponents through the midfield and hopefully the combination of him with Martin and Cotchin will result in a dominant Richmond midfield for many years to come.