ALIIR ALIIR has found his place - the Port Adelaide Football Club and, more specifically, in defence.
Right club, right role.
"I am just comfortable playing back," said the 196cm tall defender who has answered Port Adelaide's pressing need for more height in defence - and his own need for a clearly defined job in an AFL team.
"Towards the end of 2019," added Aliir as he reflected on his time at Sydney on the eve of playing the Swans for the first time, "and even in the 2020 season, I was inconsistent all over the ground. It did not really matter where I was playing, in the ruck or at the back or forward line, I was very inconsistent with my form.
"I have come to a new club - never knowing how it was going to go - and everyone has made me feel very welcome.
"I am locked and loaded to playing down back and just being able to play with a bit of confidence - and the boys around me have made me feel very welcome."
Almost a year after Port Adelaide earmarked Aliir as a trade target, the South Sudanese big man has no regret in leaving Sydney as a contracted player.
"I feel good, I feel comfortable," Aliir said.
"Early stages, you don't know how you are going to go - (particularly) when I had never done it (changed clubs) before. So you don't really know how it is going to go. But I am loving every minute here.
"The leadership group, the coaching staff have made me feel very welcome. The Port Adelaide community have made me feel very welcome."
This marks a contrast to how Aliir had come to feel about his football across 2019-2020.
"I was not having a great season, Port Adelaide's interest came in and everything happened pretty quick," Aliir said. "I am here now. I am a Port Adelaide player. All I want to do is win a premiership and that is still my goal."
Aliir, noted for discovering Australian football while finding his new home after leaving a refugee camp in Africa, faces his AFL past on Saturday afternoon at Adelaide Oval with his former Sydney teammates.
The AFL fixture has kept the moment on a long build up.
"It does not make too much of a difference (whether it was earlier in the season or now)," Aliir said. "I'm playing my old team - and it is what it is. I am just excited to play against them".
There has been the inevitable "banter" from his former Sydney team-mates.
"I have chatted to a few of them; there is a little bit of banter going on there," Aliir said. "But once I get out there (on Saturday) I am playing for Port Adelaide and I'm out there to get a win for them.
"I'm not sure (of the Sydney reception to come on Saturday). I won't know until I am out there. I'm prepared ... if they come at me, I'll go back twice as hard. I am a chilled and relaxed person, but if someone comes at you - it will be natural for you to go back at them. I will expect that. If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen.
"I have some good mates there but I play for Port Adelaide and I have a job to do - and that is to play well and get a win for Port Adelaide.
"I'll chat (to the Sydney players) after the game."
There has been more chatter with his current Port Adelaide team-mates to understand Sydney, a team that has changed its ways this season to show a more attacking game that leads to Lance Franklin.
"We had a line meeting (on Friday morning) and I gave (my teammates) a few tips on how (to deal with Franklin)," Allir said. "I know the competitive beast that 'Buddy' is. But I am up for the challenge. And I think he knows that too.
"We have been working as a back six so it won't be just one of us locked on him. I have given some strengths and weaknesses (on Franklin) to a few of the players - and of those in the middle and forward and down back. I am sure with us working together, we can get the job done.
"I said early in the week to the boys, whatever you need (on Sydney intel) just come to ask me. I will give as much as I can.
"But the way they have been playing is a little different too."
Aliir, 26, is regarded as one of the "recruits of year" after leaving Sydney with 64 AFL games in seven seasons.
"It has been a win for us," says Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley, "and, hopefully for us, is will be a consistent win for a long time.
"Aliir had some great times at the Sydney Football Club. He has a new team now and a new club that really love him and he is playing some outstanding football."
Aliir has developed the reputation of a strong intercept defender, but he intends to have much more emerge on his resume.
"I don't see myself as just an intercept player," Aliir said. "I feel like the way I play - just starting on the body and working there - I have always prided myself on defending first and the other things take care of itself.
"I definitely see myself as a defender first and then the other stuff comes. I start on my opponent and if I can come off and help, I feel that works well. For me it is about playing consistent football. I have started the year really well and now it is about continuing that and finishing the year strong."
Aliir was a popular figure among the 400 participants at Port Adelaide's Power Intercultural Program carnival at Karen Rolton Oval on Friday, strongly appreciating his task as a role model.
"Sometimes you just feel proud as a 'big brother'," Aliir said. "There are plenty of kids who don't know AFL but seeing guys like us on the national stage will want more to make it to the top level.
"Carnivals like this bring people together to teach them the ropes of the game."