NORTH Melbourne has locked away a critical piece of its future, with promising forward Nick Larkey re-signing for two more seasons.
Larkey is one of the Kangaroos' best finds this year, kicking 19 goals in 12 games so far to establish himself as Coleman Medal contender Ben Brown's main support in attack.
The 21-year-old scored a deserved NAB AFL Rising Star nomination for his career-best five-goal haul against St Kilda in round 16.
AFL.com.au understands an announcement is imminent on his new contract.
There was never any real doubt about whether Larkey would remain at Arden St, and he made that abundantly clear at the time of his Rising Star nod.
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"I'm keen to stay at the club," he told AFL.com.au.
"I love the club and I love everything they've given me. They took a chance on me real late in the draft at number 73 (North's final pick in 2016), which I won't forget.
"I'm loving my time at the club, 'Shawry' (caretaker coach Rhyce Shaw) is such a great coach and there's a real good vibe around the place."
For all the scrutiny on North's drafting and recruiting record in recent years, Larkey is a genuine success story as a speculative selection in the 2016 NAB AFL Draft.
Nick Larkey and Cam Zurhaar have electrified a new-look North forward line. Picture: Getty Images
The ex-Oakleigh Charger was a consistent goalkicker in the VFL from the get-go and won the 'Frosty' Miller Medal last year as the state league competition's leading goalkicker with 41 in 17 games.
Even so, Larkey had to bide his time for senior opportunities, playing only two AFL games across his first two years, including none in 2018.
He also had to wait for his opportunity this season, but hasn't looked back since breaking into the senior side in round six.
Larkey's contested marking is one of his strengths and he moves well for someone of 198cm.
He has suffered heart palpitations in a few games this year and he will undergo a post-season cardiac ablation, a procedure that scars or destroys tissue that triggers an abnormal heart rhythm.
Larkey will play out the season before then and the minor surgery will not prevent him from being ready for the start of pre-season.