Red and white all right for Swans fan

Nick Rynne
Sydney draftee Aliir Aliir. Pic: Ian Munro

When Aliir Aliir first arrived in Australia, Sydney was where his family called home.

Tomorrow, 12 years after leaving the NSW capital, he will return there to begin his new life as an AFL footballer.

Aliir became the second AFL-listed player with Sudanese heritage and the first picked in a national draft when Sydney claimed him with the 44th selection on Thursday.

The East Fremantle defender didn't see his name pop up - he was checking a text message.

"I'm pretty proud and humbled," he said. "Trying to get my head around just getting drafted is one thing, to be the first Sudanese player (in a national draft) makes it even more great."

Born in a refugee camp in Kenya, Aliir's family moved to Australia when he was seven, eventually settling in Brisbane.

After learning to kick a ball at Kedron State High School, he was invited by a mate to play for the Aspley Hornets.

Within a few years he had made the Queensland side and was invited to play for the world XVIII at the under-16 championships.

It was at those championships Aliir started talking to his new teammate Reuben from Perth, who turned out to be his long-lost cousin. The revelation prompted his mother Zainab to move the family to WA.

At those championships, with some persuasion from coach Michael O'Loughlin, Aliir started supporting the Swans.

Moments after Sydney selected him last night, Aliir received a call from coach John Longmire and texts from Jarrad McVeigh, Kieren Jack and Josh Kennedy.

He hopes his new teammates can help him convert the one family member still reluctant to follow the game - his mum.

"She likes soccer," he said. "She didn't mind me playing footy - she just didn't like it.

"Hopefully I'll get her (to come) round."

Aliir will start training at the Swans on Monday.

West Coast yesterday introduced recruits Tom Barrass and Dylan Main to the playing group.

The club's other two draftees, Dom Sheed and Malcolm Karpany, will be introduced on Monday.

Main, a 189cm utility player from South Fremantle, said meeting his teammates was a strange moment.

"You were watching them on TV and now you've got a chance to play with them and you'll get to be mates with them and everything," he said. "It's slowly getting to me but it hasn't sunk in."

·Subiaco forward Michael Wood, 19, will train with Essendon ahead of Tuesday's pre- season and rookie drafts.

The 19-year-old kicked 18 goals for the Lions' league team and 29 in the colts this season.