PAFC Round 5 Player of the Week

The former Swan was the catalyst in Port's win over Carlton with his reading of the game, positioning and intercepting again a feature.

Port Adelaide consolidated their win over Richmond by backing up and disposing of Carlton by 28 points at the MCG on Saturday night. One player who was the driving force was recruit Aliir Aliir. My word he has been the pickup of the season and if he isn’t, then he has to be in the top three along with Stefan Martin and Adam Treloar.

Aliir’s ability to read the play, intercept the opposition’s entries inside their forward 50 is a sight to behold. He was essentially a brick wall against the Blues. His performance had Fox Footy’s Garry Lyon stating that his game against Carlton was “Rance” like.

Given how he goes about his business it is hard to disagree with. Now he is as good as Alex Rance? At this stage no, simply because Rance is a once-in-a-generation player but he sure is well on his way. Aliir’s ability to cover two defenders at once much like Rance did for Richmond but also his one-on-one work with Harry McKay a feature as he kept the Blue's spearhead to one goal and just five possessions.

Aliir Aliir’s stats v Carlton

- 17 disposals

- 94% disposal efficiency

- 10 intercept possessions

- 3 score involvements

- 100% time on the ground

Aliir’s positioning on the ground was also first-rate. One section of the game stood out for me. Halfway through the last quarter, Aliir was matched up on Mitch McGovern inside Carlton’s 50. With the ball just outside Carlton’s forward area, McGovern placed himself where the ball was never going. Aliir recognised this and essentially gave McGovern a 40m leg rope and in turn, made himself the spare man in the defensive 50 because he knew the ball was never going to get to McGovern.

Where did the ball go? Kicked to Harry McKay who was one out with Tom Clurey, Aliir positioned himself incredibly well and took one of his 10 intercept possessions. It's that kind of game knowledge that sets him apart from other key defenders. He is equally adept at being that floating lose man while at the same time being one of the best defenders one out with his opponent and he has an uncanny knack of getting his fist on the ball when he looks out of the contest.

His athleticism is nearly unmatched when talking about defenders in the competition. Having Aliir down back for Port controlling the defensive side of Port’s game allows players like Tom Jonas, Tom Clurey, and the like to worry solely on their opponent while Aliir takes control and does what he does best.

Ollie Wines even stated in his post-game interview that he still doesn't understand why Sydney let him go for so cheap, but Port would be extremely happy to have a player like him in their side. Coach Ken Hinkley even said “I’m really happy he is with us” in his press conference just shows you how highly regarded he is already at Alberton. At this stage is a lock for All-Australian selection for me and while it is early on in the season it is a great start to his Port Adelaide career.

Aliir Aliir has already established himself as one of Port’s move valuable players just five games into the season and he could be one of the driving forces behind Port Adelaide’s tilt at the 2021 premiership.

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