Leek Aleer soars to claim the match-clinching mark for GWS against Geelong. Image by Julian Smith/AAP PHOTOS
  • Australian rules football

Stand-in Aleer’s AFL heroics no surprise to teammates

Joanna Guelas May 27, 2024

Greater Western Sydney defender Leek Aleer waited patiently for his chance to shine on the AFL stage, and now he has literally grabbed it with both hands.

The 22-year-old’s stunning intercept marks in the dying moments helped the Giants snap their three-game losing streak in a thrilling four-point win over Geelong at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday night.

Giants captain Toby Greene had pulled off a stunning right-foot snap to snatch the lead but the Cats continued to surge with more than seven minutes remaining.

It was Aleer, a stand-in for injured defender Jack Buckley, who emerged as the match-winner in just his seventh appearance at senior level.

After picking off Tom Stewart’s long bomb inside-50, the lanky defender silenced the Geelong crowd when he launched over Tyson Stengle and Tom Hawkins to pull off another spectacular mark with just one minute left to play.

“I’ve watched it a lot. It’s pretty surreal,” Aleer said on Monday, having become an overnight football celebrity.

“I’ve been pretty patient waiting for an opportunity. I’m just glad I was able to take it with two hands.

“To be part of a big moment of the game like that means a lot to me because it means a lot to the club.

“A couple of Geelong supporters who I’m mates with back home weren’t too happy.”

Going for a spoil would have been the safer choice for any defender in that situation, but Aleer was unwilling to let the Cats score again off one of his soft-drops.

The South Australian had gifted Stengle his second major of the night and allowed Geelong to level the scores after failing to secure a mark earlier in the final term.

“Spoiling did cross my mind but I knew if I spoiled it, it was just going to come back,” Aleer said.

“I was pretty filthy. To see Geelong score off the back of my mistake, I just wanted to attack the footy, continue attacking the footy.

“Taking a mark felt like the right decision at the time. With that last play, I just wanted to help the team win.”

 Giants teammates were well aware for Leek Aleer’s talents from his feats at training. Image by Julian Smith/AAP PHOTOS 

Born in Kenya to Sudanese parents before moving to Adelaide, Aleer made his debut for the Giants in 2022 after being drafted at pick No.15 in 2021.

The key defender had already established his prowess in the air after breaking the all-time draft combine record for the running vertical jump, with a leap of 107cm.

It shattered previous records set by Kyron Hayden (103cm) and Nic Naitanui (102cm).

Fellow defender Lachie Whitfield was not surprised as he watched Aleer flaunt his attributes against Geelong, and expects a welcomed selection headache for Kingsley when Buckley recovers from his calf injury.

“We’ve seen it for ages. He’s been jumping over heads for a couple of years at training. It’s about time,” Whitfield told AAP.

“He probably should have played 30 or 40 games already if it wasn’t for Sam (Taylor) and Jack being so pivotal in their role.

“It’s good trouble for the coaches to have when Jack’s fit, because we know Leek can do things like that, save games and take marks and ignite our offence on turnover.”