Aliir Aliir has a chance to make his debut for the Sydney Swans tonight, in a highly anticipated NAB Challenge clash against the GWS Giants.
Becoming the first Sudanese player selected in the National Draft when the Swans called his name at number 44, Aliir’s progress will be watched closely by many Queenslanders.
While he was drafted after an over-age campaign with the Western Australia state side, Aliir first picked up a footy in Queensland, playing for Aspley and the Queensland U18 side in 2012.
Aliir’s journey to the AFL, after fleeing a Kenyan refugee camp in 2003, has been remarkable, and that continued with his inclusion in Sydney’s 29 man squad for tonight’s match.
The Swans will be missing superstar recruit Lance Franklin and Queenslander Kurt Tippett (knee), but have named a fairly strong side to take on the Giants.
Sam Reid will also return from injury for the Swans, with his role potentially providing clues on how the Swans will use their abundance of talls in 201.
In a preview of the Round 1 Battle of the Bridge, there is just as much intrigue around one of the Giant’s inclusions tonight, with Jonathan Patton to make his return from an ACL injury.
Patton, the no. 1 pick in the 2011 draft, will play his first game against AFL opposition since round three last year, when he takes the field for the newest kids on the block tonight.
High profile recruit, and vice-captain, Heath Shaw will make his GWS debut, while former Swan, Jed Lamb, will also don the orange and grey for the first time.
The match will be the Giants’ first under new coach, Leon Cameron, and they will certainly be out to show improvement from the get go.
The match kicks off at 6:10pm Queensland time, at Canberra’s Manuka Oval.