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Aliir embraces many talents

JLT 2: Aliir post match Aliir Aliir speaks to SwansTV after a big win over the Suns.
LISMORE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 10: Jarrod Witts of the Suns is challenged by Aliir Aliir of the Swans during the 2019 JLT Community Series AFL match between the Sydney Swans and the Gold Coast Suns at Oakes Oval on March 10, 2019 in Lismore, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
LISMORE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 10: Jarrod Witts of the Suns is challenged by Aliir Aliir of the Swans during the 2019 JLT Community Series AFL match between the Sydney Swans and the Gold Coast Suns at Oakes Oval on March 10, 2019 in Lismore, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

From his match-winning goal on the run against North Melbourne in Round 17 to the ease with which he defused the footy against Collingwood in defence three games later, Sydney Swans backman Aliir Aliir last year reminded the masses he’s a man of many talents.

And the towering 24-year-old Swan says he relished the chance to hone his craft as a ruckman as Sydney grabbed a 42-point JLT Community Series victory on Sunday afternoon.

A teenaged Aliir cut his teeth as a ruckman in Aspley Hornets colours, and Callum Sinclair’s late withdrawal opened the door for the youngster to wind back the clock in the Swans’ pre-season clash with the Gold Coast Suns in Lismore.

Whether coach John Longmire wants Aliir at home in defence, or plugging a hole inside 50 or in the ruck, the 194-centimetre Swan says he wants to do what’s best for the team.

“Being able to play different positions is one of my strengths, and whenever the coach needs me to play a different role I’ll put my hand up,” Aliir told SwansTV post-match.

“That was the case this weekend. John asked me a couple of days ago if I wanted to play in the ruck and I said I’m happy to.

“It was good to be able to run around with the midfielders, get a chance up forward and build up the fitness before the season starts.”

Aliir lost the hit-out count 46-17 in his duel with Gold Coast big man Jarrod Witts on Sunday, but he gathered 19 disposals, five marks and five clearances in an exceptional display at ground level.

And Sydney’s midfielders thrived alongside the fill-in ruckman, with Josh Kennedy (31 disposals), Ryan Clarke (29), Tom Papley (27), Luke Parker (25) and George Hewett (24) all finding plenty of the Sherrin.

After toppling GWS in an inter-club match, falling short against the Giants in their opening JLT Community Series fixture and rounding out the pre-season with Sunday’s win over the Suns, the Swans are now set for a week off before the season proper begins.

Sydney will get its 2019 campaign underway in a battle with the Western Bulldogs at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium on March 23, and Aliir said the Swans were shaping up well on the road to Round 1.

“It’s good to be able to get a couple of games done early for fitness reasons, and hopefully we can build from it when the season kicks off in not too long,” Aliir said. 

“We have a few players coming back from injury and everyone is getting more and more excited for the season ahead.”