Learning from the Tasmanian State League's leading ruck heading into a grand final is a pretty fantastic position to be in.
That is the reality for North Launceston's Theo Ives, who has assumed the role of being under the wing of four-time team of the year member Alex Lee.
"Alex has been great, having him around as a role model has been super important and he's great with all of the young boys," Ives said.
"He has been super supportive and understanding and has helped me realise that I just need to back myself.
"He just sets the standard but then also if you need a bit of encouragement, feedback or criticism, he's always there just to pick his brain."
Debuting for the Bombers' senior side in 2021, the 21-year-old has played 36 of a possible 38 games across the last two seasons.
All but two of them have been alongside his ruck mentor, with Ives taking on Kingborough's formidable tall timber of Jack Tomkinson, Marcus Gardner and Tyler Carter by himself earlier this year.
He was named North's second-best player as the Bombers picked up their solitary win for the season over Saturday's grand final opponents.
"I actually really enjoyed it, obviously it was pretty tough because they've got two or three pretty tall fellas that I was up against but I think it was just a good experience," he said.
"I was pretty grateful for the opportunity to step up in Alex's absence and it was obviously very physical and challenging but it was a good growth situation for me."
Hailing from Longford, Ives started his football career with the Tigers before moving to East Launceston Junior Football Club as a student of Scotch Oakburn College.
He eventually made the move to North Launceston's under-18 program in 2019 and is part of a strong contingent of young guns that have played together for several seasons.
"You look at our team and we're all pretty similar in age and all best mates," he said.
"We all know each other very well outside of footy and I think that's super handy, that's probably one of the reasons why we've had the success thus far especially this year."
North Launceston will be playing in both the development league and senior grand finals on Saturday at North Hobart Oval.
The seniors start at 2.30pm and the development league, who play North Hobart, start at 11.30am.
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