Canadian rugby player picked for Swans - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Canadian rugby player picked for Swans

18/02/2009 03:13:16 PM Comments (0)

Sydney coach Paul Roos will make one of the most left-field selections in AFL history with former rugby union international Mike Pyke to debut for the Swans against Port Adelaide on Sunday.

Pyke, a member of Canada's 2007 rugby World Cup squad, only joined the Swans' rookie list in December last year.

But such has been his improvement that Roos confirmed on Wednesday that the 24-year-old will share the ruckwork with Darren Jolly in the NAB Cup match in Canberra against the Power.

"He'll play on the weekend which is really good, he's at the stage now where he just needs to play," Roos said.

"He'll make some mistakes and he'll go to the wrong places and those sorts of things but in terms of his development; he rucked against Darren Jolly in our scratch match and did really well.

"He was competitive but now he's got to learn the game and you can only do that by playing.

"He'll play and probably play a lot of minutes on Sunday and I think he's pretty nervous and it's a big challenge for him but I'm sure he's looking forward to it."

Pyke, who has 17 Test caps for Canada and scored an 80m intercept try against the All Blacks in the build-up to the 2007 World Cup, seems physically well-suited to a rucking role standing 200cm tall and weighing 104kg.

And the Swans have spots available on their senior list following the departure of Irish midfielder Tadhg Kennelly and the retirement of Nic Fosdike, while defender Leo Barry will miss the start of the home and away campaign due to injury.

With no confirmed back-up to Jolly in the rucking department following the retirement of Peter Everitt, a good performance by Pyke in his first match could lead to an unlikely elevation to the club's senior list by round one.

"I think that will pan out over the next four weeks," Roos said.

"Daniel Currie has had an interrupted pre-season, Jesse White will do a bit of ruckwork through the next four weeks and you've got a couple of guys on the rookie list that you could possibly elevate with Leo being out for the first two or three weeks.

"It'll probably be the best performer over the next month that gets a chance to play in round one.

"There's certainly a spot there but at this stage we'll just leave it open."

Former Collingwood player Rhyce Shaw will also appear in the match against Port, his first game since his off-season move north.

And Roos said he will use up to a dozen of his regular senior players in Sunday's match, including co-captains Brett Kirk, Craig Bolton and Adam Goodes.

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