Pyke hailed as Swans' new Blood
James MacSmith
13:27 AEST Wed Sep 26 2012

AFL rookie Mike Pyke has been hailed by his Sydney teammates as the epitome of the Swans' Bloods culture and a prime example of what the team has achieved through persistence, determination and the will to learn.

After just four seasons of playing the game, former Canadian rugby union representative Pyke has a shot at claiming AFL's holy grail in Saturday's grand final against Hawthorn.

Relatively unknown at the start of the season in a Swans side that was largely under-rated as a premiership contender, the dramatic rise of Sydney and that of Pyke in 2012 have followed parallel arcs.

Sydney's strong team ethic traces back to the club's South Melbourne past and was promoted heavily by former coach Paul Roos.

It's continued unabated under his successor John Longmire and Swans co-captain Adam Goodes said Pyke is evidence of what a strong culture can achieve.

"It is a great story," Goodes said.

"I spoke about Mike at the jumper presentation this year, the sacrifices he had to make and just how much his desire was to learn and his determination to get better.

"With those two things in hand, we try to tell our younger guys with the determination and the ability and the want to learn you can be absolutely anything and you can be the best player at our football club just on those two characteristics."

Pyke's ruck partner Shane Mumford credited the 28-year-old with helping him to improve his own game.

"It's absolutely amazing, the transformation that he's made to go from playing international rugby to a game that he'd never heard of and never looked at a football," Mumford said.

"It's absolutely outstanding and he definitely helped me when I was coming back from injury the way I could play as a forward instead of coming straight back in and playing as a ruckman.

"He absorbs everything that's said to him and works so hard on and off the field."

Pyke, who represented Canada in the 2007 Rugby World Cup spoke warmly of the Swans' inclusive club culture and compared the hype surrounding the grand final to that of the NFL's Super Bowl and the NHL's Stanley Cup.

"The culture at the Swans is driven by the best players, the biggest names, typically the guys you would expect to have the biggest egos but they don't and that's what drives our success," Pyke said.

"I have played in a World Cup and some reasonably large club games but this is the pinnacle of my career. that is for sure.

"It's the finals of a major sporting league.

"Whether it is the Stanley Cup or the Super Bowl, it doesn't matter what it is.

"When you are an athlete and you get an opportunity to win a championship, a top level championship in a great sporting country in a great sporting code you want to make the most of it."

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