WEST Coast's incoming chief executive Don Pyke has resolved to use his extensive coaching experience to advise the Eagles' brains trust without over-reaching after emphasising on-field improvement as the No.1 priority next year.
And the former Adelaide senior coach will not interfere in the club's strategy for this year's National Draft and its ultimate decision to either draft young Victorian star Harley Reid or trade its prized pick No.1 for multiple early selections.
Pyke was announced as West Coast’s fifth chief executive in its history and the successor to Trevor Nisbett on Thursday, and will officially start on January 15 before completing an "orderly transition period" with the club's long-time off-field leader.
With a unique mix of experience that includes 15 years of business leadership in oil and gas and a coaching career that took him from the Eagles to Adelaide and finally to Sydney, Pyke said it was the football side of the business that stood out as a priority.
"Clearly right now as we sit here, the game has given the club that feedback to say we're currently not at the level to be winning regularly, which is what we're aspirational to do," Pyke said on Thursday.
"I've been fortunate in working in close quarters at the pointy end of other clubs to have a pretty good feel as to how that looks and where we need to spend our time and invest our money to get the best return.
"It'll be interesting to talk to Adam (Simpson) and his coaching group. Obviously, I've got a close recent history in terms of the football side of things, but I'll be stepping back, because I'm the CEO.
"I'm not going to be running football. That's their responsibility, but if I've got some value to add, which I think I will have, we'll certainly have those conversations about how we jointly get ourselves back where we want to be."
On Reid and the Eagles' Draft approach, Pyke said: "Will I get heavily involved in it? No. But I think it's important as I'm taking over that I'm at least aware of what the plan is and what we look to do. Other than that, it will be hands off until I jump in here in January".
Pyke, who was an assistant coach under Simpson for the 2015 Grand Final season before winning the top job at Adelaide, said he looked forward to working with the Eagles' 2018 premiership coach.
"We developed a really strong relationship there and he certainly supported me coming in and then supported me when I went to Adelaide," Pyke said.
"I really look forward to working with Adam. We're not going to gild the lily here. We've got some challenges to confront to make sure we return to playing the sort of footy we think and know we're capable of playing.
"I look forward to working with him and supporting him to get the best outcome."
Pyke, who will not sit on the Eagles' board as CEO, said he was drawn to the role because of both his emotional connection to West Coast and the opportunity to use the skills and interests he had developed working in business.
He arrives after two disastrous injury-impacted seasons that have returned a combined five wins, and declined to immediately set clear expectations for the rebuilding AFL team in 2024.
"I think we've got enough talent in our current group to play clearly better than we have in the last couple of years," Pyke said.
"But we need to focus on what we can control, we need to make sure we're staying really positive about how we can move this forward and get ourselves in a space where we’re ready to compete come round one next year."
On his exit from Adelaide, which came after the club's damaging 2018 pre-season camp, Pyke said he had reflected and learned from that period of his coaching career.
"Leadership is not easy because the demands are as high as ever on leaders (and) you're going to make mistakes," he said.
"At Adelaide we made a couple of mistakes. But we apologised, we learned from those, and that reflection time does allow you to go back and see things in a different way.
"The role I undertook at Sydney allowed me to sit one out, one back and work alongside John (Longmire) and see how John goes about things, which is different to how I go about things and different to how Adam goes about things."