THE END of Brett Deledio's career looks to have come sooner than expected after he suffered yet another calf injury in Greater Western Sydney's elimination final thumping of the Western Bulldogs.
Deledio announced his retirement at season's end last month and while the Giants won their cut-throat final to keep their campaign alive, the 32-year-old was chaired off the ground in highly emotional scenes.
He was hugged by teammates after the final siren of GWS' 58-point win at Giants Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
One of them was Adam Tomlinson, the man he replaced in the line-up against the Dogs.
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Deledio will have scans on Sunday, but it is highly unlikely he could be risked again by the Giants, even if they do make it deep into the finals series.
The veteran felt his calf go in the opening term but bravely decided to play on to help his team get over the Bulldogs and laid a huge tackle that gave Daniel Lloyd a crucial goal in the third term.
"I cooked it in the first quarter, but I had to do my bit and hang in there for the boys," he said.
"It's pretty sore, and I don't know how big the strain is in the tendon.
"If we make it through (to the Grand Final) I might be a chance (to play again) but it looks like it might be curtains unfortunately.
"I had to roll the dice and hope that it hung on, I wanted to give it everything to try and get back.
"Halfway through that first quarter I was feeling really good and then all of a sudden (it went) as it always (does)."
He had been returning after suffering a calf issue against Hawthorn in round 21.
The 32-year-old said he kept the injury from the GWS coaching staff.
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"I didn't tell them, I didn't want to tell them," he said.
"They knew after half-time but I didn't tell them early.
"I was talking with the physios and told them I could feel it, but said I'll keep pushing on and see how I go.
"I couldn't put the boys under any sort of duress, it was better off being me that was sore, rather than any of them."
Deledio said being chaired off at Giants Stadium was extremely emotional.
"I think it all just hit me that it could be my last ever game," he said.
"I'm rapt with the way the boys played even if it's not the fairy tale that I thought (I'd get)."