Pyke on bike
Wednesday, May 06 2009 @ 10:45 PM ACST
Contributed by: Troy Thompson
After spending the season so far as an emergency for the Swans after impressing in the preseason, Mike Pyke finally made his debut for the Sydney Swans on Sunday afternoon. It seems Pyke was not all cool and calm about his shot at the big time as he sent his mother (who had travelled from Canada to see his debut game) away when she came to visit him on Sunday morning. But calm enough to cruise from his home on his bike down to the SCG.
Yes of all the internationals in recent years to make the switch, his is the most remarkable - from a rugby career which included Test match representation for Canada and playing professional rugby in Scotland less than 12 months ago to riding past the Sydney Football Stadium (where he might have reasonably been expected to line up at some stage in his rugby kit) and on to the SCG to play Australian Rules Football.
The need to find talent away from the main draft has encouraged some clubs to look outside traditional talent pools, and a tall, quick, coordinated guy who has played contact sport at the highest level who comes knocking on your door (and only takes up a rookie list spot) was too much of a good offer for the Swans to pass up.
Pyke acquitted himself well once the grand stories of transition were behind him and siren sounded. And after seven minutes on the bench he began his job, backup ruckman, giving the main ruckman a breather and providing impact with fresh legs - "a credible impression" said the Associated Press article that was printed in various media around the world.
His stats showed a return of four handballs, one mark, one tackle and 11 hit-outs as he continued to change off the bench throughout the game. He made some rookie mistakes as rookies do, but impressed with his contested mark and a palm down ruck tap to Brett Kirk on the move (who hit Michael O'Loughlin on the lead, who followed up with a goal) which belied his brief time in the game.
Coach Paul Roos told The Age "I thought he was terrific. He played 50 minutes ... I think we got exactly what we wanted, he can get his hand on the ball, he's a competent ruckman, you could see a little bit of composure which we didn't see in the pre-season. Today just showed, even people who've seen him in the pre-season, how much further he's come since then. Hopefully he keeps improving and hopefully he's got a long career in AFL footy ahead of him."