Former refugee to make Swans AFL debut

Kenya-born Sudanese refugee Aliir Aliir will take the next step of his eventful life journey on Sunday, when he makes his AFL debut for Sydney against Brisbane.

Aliir, who was drafted at No.44 in 2013, will replace injured Swans fullback Ted Richards for the clash at the Gabba.

The 193cm key defender arrived in Australia aged nine and spent time in Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane and Perth.

He played his junior footy for Queensland club Aspley Hornets and was drafted from WA side East Fremantle.

With Richards and fellow key defender and off-season recruit Michael Talia injured, Aliir has the chance to prove himself at AFL level following recent good form for the reserves in the NEAFL.

“What he’s done over the time he’s been here but particularly over the last pre-season and over the games to this point so far, has been terrific, winning his one-on-ones,” Swans coach John Longmire said.

“He’s a very good kick and a very good athlete but the thing we’ve been most impressed with over the last five weeks has been his ability to play on some key position players and play them really well.

“He’s been exposed to a couple of quality key position players at the next level down and he’ll get exposure to a couple of good ones this week.”

Aliir learnt of his promotion at a team meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s probably the best grin I’ve ever seen,” Longmire said.

Aliir is the fourth player to be blooded by the Swans this season, following the round-one debuts of Callum Mills, George Hewett and Tom Papley, who won this week’s Rising Star nominee.

“He (Aliir) has had a few challenges along the journey, there’s no doubt about that, but he’s making the most of his opportunities now,” Longmire said.

Richards will be out for two to three weeks with a fractured eye socket he suffered during his best on ground performance against West Coast last Saturday.

“He doesn’t miss that much training, he’s just not able to do the contact work,” Longmire said.

He said defender Jeremy Laidler, who left the field with concussion in the first half of last week’s fixture, was expected to play against Brisbane.

Injury prone speedster Gary Rohan is ready to play his first game of the season in the reserves this weekend, after recovering from a hamstring problem.

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