“The disappointing thing from the outside is everyone says, ‘oh, they’re so talented’, but a lot of it comes down to heart and effort. That’s probably what doesn’t get recognised enough,” Deledio said.
“I don’t know of too many other teams that would have their first-choice midfield not playing and still be performing the way we are.
“We keep hearing about Collingwood and everything that’s going on with them, but our (injury) list is certainly mounting with some pretty handy players, and we keep finding a way.
“I’m really proud of our younger boys and how they’ve been able to play their role, come in and do their job. If we ever get our full quota playing together at the one time for a long period of time, it should be on.”
Deledio said credit also had to be paid to coach Leon Cameron, whose tactical nous and personnel decisions have allowed GWS to safely negotiate a tricky run of fixtures and come out of it with their top-four hopes still very much alive.
“To keep the ship steadied with everything that’s gone on, things that we can’t control a lot of the time, you take your hat off to the bloke for holding his nerve and being able to get us playing the right way,” he said.
“We’re still the second-hardest team to score against, so we’re doing a lot right, and we’ve always been known as this offensive juggernaut. There’s some things that are very easy to look past, but he’s gone about it the right way.”
Rested the week before the derby, Deledio picked up 23 possessions and had seven score involvements against the Swans, and was in the thick of the action in GWS’s defensive half during what he said was a “frenetic” end to the match as Sydney’s late rally fell agonisingly short.
Jeremy Cameron, Josh Kelly and Matt de Boer are among the injured players who could come back into the team for the clash against the Hawks, while a refreshed Deledio said he had pulled up well and was ready to finish off the season strongly.
“I’m feeling really good,” he said. “For some funny reason we don’t get too many Friday nights, so we’ll make the most of that. The biggest thing for us is to just keep continuing to try and win and play a game that’s built on effort.”
Deledio was speaking on Monday at Giants Stadium during the finals of the Paul Kelly Cup, a primary schools competition run by AFL NSW/ACT. Usually able to maintain a low profile like most AFL players in Sydney, Deledio was one of the star attractions.
“A few blokes knew who I was going into the stands. I nearly fell over,” he laughed. “Up here, people ask you how you’re going … in Melbourne they give you a bit of feedback and constructive criticism along the way, which is helpful.
“The game’s growing, that’s for sure. You can see, the enjoyment the kids get … and our club’s doing a great job, the amount of time we spend in the outer suburbs.”
Vince is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.