After a junior career spent all over the ground, Nick Larkey is making the most of his new permanent role in attack.
On arrival at Arden Street with the 73rd pick of last year’s National Draft, the 18-year-old was immediately placed in the forward line, and it’s starting to pay dividends.
After getting a taste of senior football in the JLT Series, Larkey’s impressive pre-season has continued in Werribee’s VFL practice matches.
His three goals on Sunday showed off his ability both in the air and on the ground, with a gather, evade and snap a highlight.
“I went into the game with a few things in my mind that I wanted to do,” Larkey explained to NMFC.com.au.
“If I’m playing my role it’s pressure, getting to as many contests as I can and getting on the scorecard.
“For me it helps when I get into the game early and get an early touch so it helped I got the first goal of the game.
“I enjoyed playing up forward, there was space to move around in and it came in pretty deep which was good.”
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It was the first time Larkey has been able to spend a long period of time in the same position on the field.
A whole pre-season spent learning the ins and outs of playing as a forward has given him momentum, while being at the start of the learning process has also worked in his favour.
“At training in match simulations and drills, usually the best backline lines up against the second’s forward line, which is where I am,” Larkey said.
“So I find myself playing on Robbie Tarrant, Lachie Hansen or Scott Thompson and you learn so much about being a key-forward when you’re playing on those key-defenders.
“There’s how hard you have to work, different body work, tactics; playing on good defenders has already taught me heaps about being a forward.
“I think I’ve improved so much since I got to the club as a footballer in general and especially with forward craft.”
Larkey, at 198 centimetres and 85 kilograms, cuts a lean figure at this early stage of his development.
In recognising that, he has been able to lean on Jarrad Waite as one of the seasoned veterans.
“He’s not the tallest or strongest key-forward, but his footwork and leading patterns are unbelievable,” Larkey said of Waite.
“It’s similar to me; I’m tall and sort of lean at the moment. Where I’ll be able to impact games is my mobility, not so much bodying up.”
The ‘bodying up’ will likely come later in Larkey’s career once multiple pre-seasons take their effect.
And while he’s working hard on that, in the meantime he’s also remembering to focus on his strengths.
“When I came [to North], I thought I had to do the most work in the gym,” Larkey added.
“[But] you’ve still got to work on what you’re good at, and what elite qualities you’re going to bring.
“The coaches always say each week, “what elite qualities are you going to bring to the table?”. For me, it’s probably agility and movement for my size. So if I play on a big key defender, I’ll have to beat them by moving around.”