DON PYKE'S arrival at Sydney did not generate the fanfare associated with a prized on-field signing, but he has already made a huge difference at the AFL club.
Pyke's return to a coaches' box at the Gabba on Saturday night will come almost 600 days after his final game in charge of Adelaide.
The former Crows coach has quickly won over the players, and helped head coach John Longmire tinker with the Swans' game plan and plot the best response to new rules.
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Pyke's passion for coaching remained strong after he resigned in Adelaide amid the fallout of two much-maligned seasons and a camp that followed the 2017 Toyota AFL Grand Final.
Yet the former West Coast board member and premiership player knew there was a risk his coaching days were done.
Especially when COVID-19 prompted mass redundancies as the AFL asked clubs to cut football department spending by approximately $3 million.
"I probably thought, 'Jeez there's going to be more people going out than coming back' ... it was a nice call to get from John," Pyke recalled.
As it turned out, those cutbacks helped sow the seed for Pyke's shift across the country.
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Longmire, having debriefed with head of football Charlie Gardiner and chief executive Tom Harley, agreed Sydney must recruit "good people skilled at a number of things because there are going to be less of us".
"The first name that came to mind was Don Pyke," Longmire said, citing his business, boardroom and coaching experience.
"I got a very clear picture early days that he missed coaching. He loves the strategy side and teaching players, absolutely loves it. You can see the sparkle in his eye.
"He's been fantastic, everything we hoped and more."
Captain Josh Kennedy agreed, highlighting the Swans' improved ball movement throughout pre-season.
"The way he's able to see the game and dumb it down for us players, it's fantastic," Kennedy said.
"He's just brought something different to our game plan."
Pyke's new office is a world away from Adelaide's West Lakes.
The 52-year-old is enjoying "quite refreshing" relative anonymity in Sydney as Longmire's right-hand man.
"It's just a very different environment," Pyke said.
"You see the players are able to come in, do their work then go out and just live their life."
Pyke admired the Swans' culture and consistency over the past 20 years from afar, but a young list full of potential made the job even more attractive.
"They've all been sensational to work with," Pyke said.
"Very keen to learn and climb the ladder. Really open to new ideas and having a conversation - 'why this? Why not? Could this work?'.
"That makes our job as coaches a lot easier."