Compliments towards football umpires are a bit like Justine Henin winners - very rare to not be backhanded.
So when Tasmanian trio Tom McIntee, Sam Bridges and Ryan Guy were selected in the AFL umpiring academy prepatory program, they were only too happy to take it as recognition for hard work.
Sold as the next step towards AFLW and AFL for talented state league umpires, the program will see McIntee, Bridges and Guy join 13 others from across the country in training under the watchful eye of Tasmania's top export and 2016 AFL Grand Final representative Scott Jeffery.
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"To have recognition from the state and Cameron Lee and the coaches to pick us out of a group of field umpires in Tassie to have the potential to take the next step ... that's exciting," Bridges said.
"It's such a good pathway for young people to aspire to, and we're getting the opportunity to do this kind of stuff in Tasmania where there's no AFL team and things like that.
"Being able to progress and be part of these programs is a real opportunity for young umpires coming through."
Three years Bridges' junior in age and six in umpiring experience, Launceston 21-year-old McIntee has hit some big heights in recent seasons.
Having made his TSL senior debut in 2016, McIntee officiated at last year's under-18 national championships and won umpire of the year during a six-month stint in Darwin.
"I umpired guys like Tarryn [Thomas] and Sam Walsh who are in the AFL now, and going away to Darwin as well for the season last year [was a highlight].
"That was pretty good experience going up there with guys I'd never met before and just seeing how they do things.
"I think [this program] is a pretty good opportunity to work with Scotty - we both umpired with him last year as well when he came down, so it's pretty good just to gain his knowledge of being in the AFL for 300-odd games."
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