Versatility is the key to Nick Larkey’s game, as he continues to make an impact as a first-year player.

At 197 centimetres tall, Larkey very much fits into the mould of a key-position player, but while be builds his frame the 18-year-old is finding the footy in different ways.

“I don’t have the size yet, so me bodying up is not the best option,” Larkey explained after a four-goal haul against Casey.

“I have to use my agility and my speed, for my size, to outplay my opponent. That’s my craft at the moment until I put on a bit of size.”

Larkey kicked three goals in the opening half, before booting his fourth soon after the main break.

A strong performance against the Demons came off the back of a promising pre-season campaign, in which he made his AFL debut against Sydney. 

“At this stage of his career without the body to go as a key-position forward he’s got to get on the move a little bit more, and be a little bit more crafty in the way he gets it,” Development Manager Ben Dyer explained.

“He resets well, he can get in the space out the back, but he can also hit up and it’s just working on when to do what for him.

“’Larks’ was really impressive for four quarters.”

For Larkey, it was all about getting the win, with consistency the key as the season progresses. 

“It can go either way as a forward; you can get on the end of a few of those kicks or it can be another player you block for, and I was lucky enough to get on the end of a few of them today.”

North’s number 40 admitted it has taken some time to adjust with the transition from under 18’s to VFL footy.

“You’re just playing against men I guess. The 18’s is a good high intensity in the TAC Cup, but when you come here you’re playing against men, it’s just the bigger bodies,” Larkey said. 

“You’ve got to work harder around the ground to get free.”

The youngster was also full of praise for his more experienced teammate Lindsay Thomas, who has played the last two games in the VFL.

“I thought it was pretty inspirational the way Lindsay carried himself,” Larkey said of Thomas, who kicked three goals.

“They (the Demons) were getting into him quite heavily throughout the whole game, and he was resilient the whole day.

“He was always trying to make us better players, blocking, leading and always presenting.

“It was inspirational to see him really step up in the second half. It’s tough when you’ve got an opponent who’s really getting into you.

“He stood tall and it was pretty impressive.”

Thomas was goalless in the first half, but played a key role late, with several team-lifting tackles and two majors in the final term.