The decade-long evolution of Zane Littlejohn from an under-18s North Launceston coach into the AFL ranks has been a story of perseverance, hard work and self-belief.
Littlejohn, who is only 33, took a chance when the former Latrobe and VFL playing career was cut short to focus on coaching and, after two TSL premierships, landed at the Brisbane Lions in 2017.
Tasmanian Chris Fagan had all but handpicked the development coach after the hard yards Littlejohn could carry on to the AFL club.
It's a quality Littlejohn not only possesses but admires.
Jay Lockhart is one his ex-coach points out for special attention following a tough initiation without taking the preferred route into the AFL.
The Melbourne defender debuted last year after being recruited via the preseason supplemental selection period from Casey Scorpions.
"When I speak about Tasmanians, I speak of their ability to step outside of comfort zones," Littlejohn said.
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"There's a lot of players in Tasmania, who a lot of people talk up and it frustrates me because they could've, should've but they didn't. Well, Jay stepped well outside his comfort zone, left his job, left his family in Tasmania.
"He was never guaranteed anything other than an opportunity to train with Casey.
"What happened from that is he deserves 100 per cent because he could have easily stayed at North and be a four-time premiership player.
"Jay just wanted to try and challenge himself and got the best reward out of anyone."
While his former Bomber premiership teammate Tarryn Thomas stole the headlines with 19 games in the 2018 No.8 pick's debut year, Lockhart slipped under the radar with 12 quality games.
Littlejohn said it was an example how it can be done.
"I think it's the Tasmanian way," he said, "we're pretty resilient and we get taught because we're a bit smaller than all the other states, we have to put our heads down and bums up more."
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