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Swans ruckman Mike Pyke hangs up the boots

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SYDNEY Swans premiership ruckman Mike Pyke has announced his retirement, ending one of the most extraordinary stories in the game.

On Friday, the always-understated big man tweeted a photo of his boots hanging up inside his locker at the SCG, signalling his career was over.

The former Canadian rugby international won himself a contract with the Swans after sending a highlights reel to the club and former coach Paul Roos.

He was taken with pick 101 in the 2010 NAB AFL Draft and became the first Canadian and first former professional rugby player to play in the completion.

He played 110 AFL games.

Pyke went from an experiment to the top of the footy world when he played a key role in the Swans 2012 premiership win over Hawthorn, performing admirably as a back-up ruckman to Shane Mumford.

His 2013 season was his best, with Pyke playing 25 games and kicking 28 goals as the Swans made it to the preliminary final, before losing to Fremantle.

The 31-year-old assumed the No.1 ruck duties when Mumford crossed to Greater Western Sydney the following season.

A knee injury hampered his output this year and limited Pyke to just 18 games, but he still formed a formidable pairing with Kurt Tippett, and played in the Swans' two finals losses to the Dockers and North Melbourne.

Pyke said it had been an incredible journey and wished to thank the club for the opportunity to play AFL.

"I’m very appreciative of the support the Sydney Swans have given me," Pyke said. 

"Thanks to the Swans supporters out there for supporting me, and cheering loudly when I kicked a goal, or came off the ground and for making a joke about being Canadian.

"I always appreciated it and always loved it."

 

Coach John Longmire said it had been a unique journey for Pyke.

"To take up the game as a 25-year-old from another professional sport, and to retire a premiership player with 110 games under your belt is a really special achievement," he said.

"We have seen so many players try to cross over to AFL from other sports but few have achieved what Mike has been able to do.

"He is a talented athlete but it is his incredible drive and determination that has helped him have such a great career."