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O Canada! Pyke set to become an Aussie

Mike Pyke gets some Aussie gifts Ted Richards makes a special presentation to Swans premiership ruckman
It's been quite a journey the last six years and I probably didn't expect to become an Australian citizen
Swans premiership ruckman Mike Pyke

SYDNEY Swans ruckman Mike Pyke will cap a remarkable journey on Sunday when the Canadian native becomes an Australian citizen. 

A man who faced heavy criticism when he first arrived in Australia in 2008 with a background in rugby union, Pyke is now a premiership player with 71 AFL games to his name, including all 25 in 2013. 

Following the departure of Shane Mumford to Greater Western Sydney, Pyke is also undoubtedly now the Swans' No.1 ruck option and will officially become a citizen in Sunday's Australia Day festivities. 

Teammate Ted Richards was on hand to present Pyke with a jar of Vegemite, some lamb chops and a packet of Tim Tams before the 29-year-old ruckman addressed the media. 

"It's been quite a journey the last six years and I probably didn't expect to become an Australian citizen," Pyke said. 

"But (my wife and I have) felt very at home for the last few years and it's a big step in our life. 

"We've had a son here now, Jorge, so it's nice to join him and to know you're being embraced by the country you've lived in for six years." 

Mumford's departure, coupled with Jesse White's move to Collingwood, has left the Swans' ruck stocks looking a little thin heading into 2014. 

Key forward Kurt Tippett is expected to spend more time in the ruck in his second season at the club, while there are some younger players pushing for selection. 

"I'm not sure what 'Horse' (head coach John Longmire) is planning on doing," Pyke said. 

"I think you might see Kurt Tippett in there, Lewis Roberts-Thomson, Toby Nankervis has been looking good, Sam Naismith, Tom Derickx. 

"There's a lot of guys vying for a spot, myself included. 

"It's a bit of a wait-and-see." 

But there is no doubt Pyke is the No.1 option, with the 201cm ruckman considered unlucky not to make the All Australian squad last year. 

He admits he has had to get his head around the fact he is now the club's first option in the ruck. 

"I think you see throughout the League when guys get an opportunity to hold that number one spot, whether it's for a game or a few weeks or a year, there's a bit of a different mindset," he said. 

"But that said, whoever is in the ruck at the time is the number one ruckman and every contest you go into is very important for the team and for your midfielders." 

Pyke said he and his Canadian wife Florencia, who received her citizenship last year, are yet to decide which country they will call home once his playing career has finished. 

But he has adjusted to his new surroundings, even enjoying some Vegemite at breakfast time. 

"I do actually," he said. "I started in the UK on Marmite (when he was still playing rugby) and Vegemite is actually a bit easier than Marmite." 

Twitter: @AFL_JD