TWO YEARS ago, Sydney's Aliir Aliir began his emergence as one of the game's most promising defenders, but in his own words, "2016 was a long time ago".

The morning after he slotted the go-ahead goal in the Swans' thrilling six-point win over North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium, the 23-year-old was keen to play down his hero status.

Aliir was more focused on the future and continuing his bid to cement himself in the Swans' side after spending 18 months in the footy wilderness.

The former refugee from South Sudan was the feelgood story of Sydney's run to the Grand Final a couple of seasons ago, but a knee injury cost him the chance of playing in the decider, and the next year was ruined by a combination of injuries and an off-field indiscretion.

Coach John Longmire didn't pick the promising youngster after he missed a training session ahead of a round seven clash with Brisbane and dropped him after one appearance in round four this year.

But after an extended run in the NEAFL the athletic rebounding backman earned a recall against West Coast in round 13 and has been outstanding since.

Aliir had 23 possessions and took 10 marks in an enthralling duel with another player of South Sudanese heritage in Majak Daw against the Kangaroos, and while Daw finished the night with four goals, Aliir's rebound from the back half played a huge role in the Swans' win.

"I'm feeling more confident the more I play and it's just about worrying about what I bring to the team, and what my strengths are," he said on Monday.

"With my run and carry, it's about having the confidence to do that week in week out, and at the moment I'm feeling good with that (part of my game).

"Speaking to 'Shawry' (Swans assistant coach Rhyce Shaw), he keeps it simple for me and tells me not to overthink it too much.

"That’s what I take into most games."

Aliir's role in defence was even more important against North when veteran Heath Grundy was rested for the match, and the Swans blooded debutant Colin O'Riordan across half-back in what turned out to be one of the games of the season. 

Like Aliir, Irishman O'Riordan has been made to belt down the selector's door in the NEAFL and he maintained that form with 19 disposals, 10 intercept possessions and eight marks against the Roos, a performance that put a huge smile on the face of Aliir.

"I lived with him in his first season and to be honest, for the first two weeks I couldn't understand a word he was saying," he said with a laugh.

"We would just play FIFA and nod our heads because we couldn't understand each other.

"But he's come a long way and he's one of my closest mates, so to be able to play with him was outstanding.

"He was terrific coming off (his man) and taking marks, and his run from defence was huge."