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Monday, September 01 2014 @ 08:45 PM CST

Pyke on bike

North America

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."

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Pyke on bike | 3 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Pyke on bike
Authored by: JB on Thursday, May 07 2009 @ 01:07 AM CST

This is a great story and great to get the recognition of footy in Canada up a little. Hopefully in a few years this sort of story will be common. Canucks who are athletic have mostly grown up playing hockey which has many similarities to footy in terms of putting the puck out in front of a moving player (at much greater speeds than running), and as the article mentions they also become quite accustomed to contact. When hockey finishes for the summer, many hockey players are starting to see footy as a way to stay in shape which is helping recruiting and assisting with the expansion in a similar way to cricketers way back. The only thing is hockey has much more in common with footy than cricket.
Cheers.

Pyke on bike
Authored by: Peter Parry on Thursday, May 07 2009 @ 10:19 PM CST

Interesting comments JB, I once took a group of foreign attendees (USA, Canada, Belgium, Denmark and Sth Africa) at a conference in Melbourne to see a game at the MCG, all were impressed, the two Europeans saying the "game has no dead spots like our football", but the most enthused was the French-Canadian who said the whole tempo and feel of the game was so much like his favourite sport - Ice Hockey.

Would be good for AFL Canada to make the most of the current "in a league of its own" AFL advert with snippets from other sports including ice hockey.

Pyke on bike
Authored by: Brett Northey on Friday, May 08 2009 @ 05:01 PM CST

There's an article on www.aflcanada.com which says just that - they are working with Sydney to promote this connection:

"The governing body of AFL footy in Canada (AFLC) are currently working with the Sydney Swans Football Club and Mike on a number of initiatives to drive awareness of the already fast growing sport in Canada".

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Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN