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Ex-rugby star hits the AFL peak
Mike Pyke, a Canada rugby international and now an AFL premiership winner. Pic: Getty Images

Former Canada rugby international Mike Pyke took the risk of his sporting life when he turned his back on a professional career in France and set his sights on the AFL and the Swans in 2008.

Now, he is a premiership player, having played his best game on the biggest stage, starring in Sydney's 10-point victory over Hawthorn at the MCG.

"I never imagined I would be in a premiership side," the 26-year-old said.

"I was told by my manager (Michael Quinlan) the Swans were one of the best sides in the league but we were falling away from the 2005-2006 success," he said.

He had suffered serious injuries in rugby and was looking for a "new lease on sport".

"I had lost my passion for rugby and this sport incorporates a lot of the things I did love about rugby," he said.

"I would always stay behind to have a kick after practice and you get to kick all training session in the AFL."

Pyke said it had been a huge adjustment from training to playing in actual matches, learning how to use his skills under pressure.

"It was hard just to learn how to use your body properly, Darren Jolly used to teach me all the time, and you have to learn how to use the nuances really. How to use your body, how to push and how to pull and even use your body when it's not really legal."

Pyke had enjoyed the camaraderie and culture of the Swans as opposed to what he labelled the "old boys" culture of rugby union.

"I think I have got huge improvement," he said.

"I'm on 46 games and I'm on 40 games over four years, I have been able to string games together like I would be able to, hopefully next year I improve again and the year after that.

"I am just starting to come to grips with the game."

Pyke is unsure what, if any reaction there will be to the victory in his native Canada.

His family had requests from the Canadian media but he said fame in his homeland "was not all that important".

"I am so happy to be doing what I am doing here."