Dangerfield, Deledio set for test against familiar foes

 

Patrick Dangerfield and Brett Deledio will head back to where it started for the biggest clashes of their AFL careers.

Next week's preliminary finals will be the first time the Geelong star and the key Greater Western Sydney recruit go up against their former clubs in finals.

In Deledio's case, it will be the first time he plays against Richmond.

Minutes after his best-afield performance on Friday night, Dangerfield enthusiastically declared "bring it on" when asked about facing Adelaide on Friday night.

The following day, Deledio will take to the MCG in the Giants' twilight final, before a raging pro-Tigers crowd.

It is also the first time Dangerfield and Deledio have played in a preliminary final.

Saturday night's resounding semi-final win over West Coast broke a finals drought for Deledio.

The previous three finals in his decorated 249-game career were Richmond's successive elimination final exits from 2013-15.

Dangerfield's stunning performance against Sydney ensured he will be the No.1 story of preliminary finals week.

Does he start in the middle against the Crows, or at full-forward?

In a tactical masterstroke, the Cats played him out of the goal square from the first bounce of their semi-final against the Swans.

It rattled Sydney who were the big pre-game favourites, and Dangerfield kicked four first-half goals in the 59-point win.

There's sure to be plenty of spice when Danger plays his old club. Pic: Getty

Even before Geelong's triumph, Adelaide forward Josh Jenkins had stirred the pot about a possible preliminary final against his ex-teammate.

"If he marches into town with his Geelong teammates, there'd be nothing better than beating him and reminding him that perhaps he should have stuck around with us and he could be a Brownlow Medallist and a premiership player," Jenkins said last week.

Dangerfield returned serve on Saturday, saying Jenkins was not the sort of person to sugar-coat anything.

"Getting rather ahead of himself the great man isn't he?" Dangerfield said.

"I wasn't thrilled about it ... mind you I do know JJ obviously extremely well."

Dangerfield has gone from strength to strength since leaving Adelaide at the end of 2015, winning a Brownlow Medal at Geelong last year and continuing to star this season.

Deledio will face Richmond for the first time since he left. Pic: Getty

It has been much different for Deledio, who left Richmond for the Giants at the end of last season.

Persistent calf muscle problems meant the skilled utility did not debut for GWS until round 20.

He has played every game since and Deledio went down back for Saturday night's 67-point semi-final belting of West Coast.

A pro-Richmond crowd of about 80,000 will have a hot reception in store for him on Saturday.

"The Tigers supporters loved him but I'm sure they will be right off him this weekend," Richmond midfielder Josh Caddy told Channel Seven's Game Day.

Meanwhile, Adelaide confirmed an injury scare on Sunday with forward Mitch McGovern now in doubt because of hamstring soreness.

Scans have cleared Cats defender Tom Stewart of serious damage after he had hamstring tightness in the second half of Friday night's win.

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