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Hale is AFL’s most dangerous ruckman: Pyke

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Getty

Hawthorn veteran David Hale is the type of AFL ruckman that gives Mike Pyke nightmares.

The Sydney giant has played against him several times and studied his moves closely, yet he’s still no closer to knowing exactly how to shut him down.

The pair came face-to-face in the 2012 AFL grand final and will again do battle in Saturday’s decider at the MCG.

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“He’s like the most dangerous ruckman in the competition,” Pyke told AAP.

“He just seems to have the knack for when to go forward and how to kick goals – he’s done it all his career.

“He did it against us in 2012; he did it last Saturday against Port Adelaide as well.

“He’s a big game player, so I suspect he’ll be trying to do the same on Saturday.”

Pyke, who has signed a new two-year deal with the Swans, is now the club’s No.1 ruckman after Shane Mumford defected to Greater Western Sydney.

He’s had plenty of tough assignments in the centre square in 2014, none more so than against 30-year-old Hale.

“I know him pretty well,” he said.

“We’ve played against each other a few times and I feel as though, now, I don’t really need to watch that much tape – you sort of know what he’s going to do.

“That said, it doesn’t really matter.

“It’s like watching tape on Buddy (Swans teammate Lance Franklin) – you’d be pretty impressed by what he does but it doesn’t mean you know how to stop it.

“He’s the sort of ruckman that you have nightmares about.”

Since round 21, Hale and Johnathan Ceglar have been the Hawks’ preferred ruck duo.

But there’s speculation Ceglar could go out for St Kilda recruit Ben McEvoy, who was a late withdrawal from Box Hill’s VFL grand final on Sunday.

“I wouldn’t want to be arriving on Monday of the grand final week and not sure if I was going to play or not,” Pyke said of McEvoy and Ceglar.

“That’s kind of stressful.”

Another thing Pyke is glad he doesn’t have to worry about is media attention from his homeland, Canada.

In grand final week two years ago, he was fielding calls from journalists eager to speak to the country’s first AFL grand finalist.

But not this time.

“I think I’ve probably been forgotten,” he laughed.

“But that’s alright, it honestly suits me quite well. I’m not one to worry about that sort of thing.

“There might be a little blurb in one of the local papers after the weekend, but maybe not.”

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