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Ben’s team-first approach

Ben Cunnington is considered by his peers as one of the best team players at Arden Street.

5:16pm May 15, 2018

The clearance king

If Ben Cunnington hasn’t already earned the status of an A-grade AFL player, 2017 has surely confirmed it.

9:19am Jul 21, 2017

Seniors List

10

Ben
Cunnington

Height
185 cm
DOB
30-06-1991
Weight
88 kg
Debut
2010
Games
2018
22
Career
187
Goals
2018
10
Career
78
2018 AFL Fantasy Points
Total
2070
Avg
94
BenCunnington

Player Bio

At a Glance

Junior club: Cobden
Recruited from: Geelong Falcons
Draft: #5, 2009 National
Debut: Round 5, 2010 v Hawthorn

Strengths

- Elite handballing
- Strong mark for his size

Jumper Club Members

- Aaron Dunton
- Kids Company
- Right Eng / A.T. Cumming Farrier PTY LTD

Background: Pre-NMFC



Originally from Cobden, Cunnington caught the eye of scouts with his 2009 form at both the Under 18 National Championships (Vic Country) and TAC Cup (Geelong Falcons).

He earned All-Australian honours for his performances for Vic Country while also captaining the Falcons. It was at Geelong where his regional manager, Michael Turner, called Cunnington ‘the most professional player I have seen in 15 years of TAC Cup.’

Regarded as one of the AFL recruiters’ top players at draft time, North Melbourne selected Cunnington with pick 5 at the National Draft.

Season by season

Season by season

Often one to fly under the radar, Ben Cunnington quickly found himself in the conversation alongside the game’s most damaging midfielders, thanks to his toughness and ability to win the contested ball.

Cunnington played every game, underpinning North’s midfield.

The 27-year-old recorded a career-high 39 disposals against West Coast in Round 19, and broke the record for most contested possessions in Round 8’s clash with Richmond, collecting 32. 

The hard-nosed midfielder, narrowly missed out on his second Syd Barker Medal this year, running second to Shaun Higgins.

2017

In an outstanding individual season, Cunnington was arguably North’s most consistent performer in 2017.

In his 20 games Cunnington recorded a career high 25.6 disposals, with 14.6 of those possessions coming contested ranking him sixth in the league.

Cunnington’s 7 clearances per game put him well and truly within the upper-tier of the games inside midfielders, ranking third in this department.

Cunnington’s fine season was recognised by finishing as the runner-up to Shaun Higgins in the Syd Barker Medal count.

2016

Transition Coach, Josh Drummond

“He certainly played some good games, but he probably wasn’t as consistent as the previous couple of years.

“He doesn’t have to have any surgery over the off-season so he’ll be able to come back for pre-season and work on a few areas of his game.

“We’re expecting a big pre-season with work on his contested stuff and his movement around the contest to go to another level next year.”

2015

Mid-season, from Leigh Tudor

"His game is right up there; he's very similar to Jack (Ziebell).

"His inside work's been outstanding – clearances, tackles and blocks. The way he plays for the team and the way he sets up at stoppages shows he really understands the game and the structures.

"He's really become an organiser in there and he and 'Goldy' (Goldstein) have got a good little thing going on."

Second half of 2015, from Darren Crocker

“Even though he didn’t have the impact on games he had last year, he still had a consistent year.

“The gap between his best and worst games got a lot closer. Each time we get to finals, going all the way back to 2012 in Perth, he was one of our standouts in a tough day at the office.

“His ability to get up at the right time of the year has been really important to us.”

2014

In the absence of Andrew Swallow early in 2014, more responsibility was placed on Ben Cunnington and he repaid the faith handsomely.

The midfielder was instrumental in early season victories over Port Adelaide and Sydney, picking up back-to-back best on grounds. Not only was Cunnington’s clearance work top-notch, he also increased his tackling output.

His 140 tackles for the season was comfortably a career-high, beating his previous best mark of 107, set in 2012. The balance of defensive and offensive work at stoppages enabled the midfielder to become a rounded threat.

Throughout the season, Cunnington was also a threat delivering the ball into attack. He ranked third at the club for total inside 50’s.

Heading into the Syd Barker Medal, Cunnington was one of the favourites. Lurking around the top of the leaderboard for the entire evening, the number 10 took the lead in the Elimination Final and held on for a thrilling one-vote victory.

2013

Mid-season, from Leigh Tudor

“Cunners has really come on. When Jack was out at the end of last year he really stepped up and he’s continued on with that this year.

“He’s really high up for contested ball, his clearance work is really good and he’s using the ball well.

Second half of 2015, from Darren Crocker

After missing Rounds 13 and 14 for family reasons, Cunnington returned to the side in Round 15 against Richmond and picked up where he left off.

His 34 disposals against Melbourne in Round 18 earned him the first three Brownlow Medal votes of his career. Cunnington had 143 clearances in 2013, ranked fourth in competition across the home and away competition.

2012

In the first half of the season it appeared Cunnington's 2012 would go much the same way as his previous two years - solid in patches but quiet for long stretches. He was dropped after a 5-possession game against Adelaide in Round 13.

He was offered a reprieve via Jack Ziebell's suspension and proceeded to string together the best football of his career. Cunnington combined his handballing, tackling and general attack at the football to show the world why he was rated so highly coming into the 2009 National Draft.

During this period, Cunnington notched career highs in tackles (11 v Collingwood), disposals (33 v GWS) and handballs (21 v Melbourne). Alongside Andrew Swallow and Jack Ziebell, Cunnington formed the trio of players who stood up when it mattered most in North's first final since 2008.

2011

In an inconsistent second season, Cunnington found himself in and out of the senior side on numerous occasions as he struggled to exert an influence on games.

An injury-interrupted pre-season impacted his chances and essentially had him fighting to regain ground lost throughout the regular season.

In a reversal of fortunes from 2010, Cunnington's Midas touch disappeared. Even though he missed six games, he played in 10 of North's 12 losses for the year.

2010

Cunnington made his debut in Round 5 against Hawthorn and quickly showed his ability to distribute through handball with 10 of his 12 possessions via hand.

While he was slow overall to collect high possession count, his tackling was quickly established at AFL level. With 77 tackles in his 18 games he was able to do what few other rookies are capable of.

Despite missing four games, Cunnington played in 10 of 11 wins by North for the season.

Stats

By the numbers

  • 2018 Season Average
    Games Played 22
    • Kicks 11.2
    • Handballs 14.4
    • Disposals 25.6
    • Marks 3.7
    • Hit-Outs 0.0
    • Tackles 5.1
    • Goals 0.5
    • AFL Fantasy 94.1

2018 Highlights

Statistics Best Opponent Round
Kicks 20 Richmond Rd 8
Handballs 25 West Coast Eagles Rd 19
Disposals 39 West Coast Eagles Rd 19
Marks 8 Essendon Rd 15
Hit-outs 0 - -
Tackles 10 West Coast Eagles Rd 19
Goals 2 Essendon Rd 15
AFL Fantasy 147 West Coast Eagles Rd 19

2018 Season Breakdown

Rd Opponent Result K H D M HO FF FA T G B AF
1 Gold Coast Suns L 55 - 39 12 9 21 1 0 0 0 7 0 0 85
2 St Kilda W 95 - 43 11 10 21 4 0 2 2 1 1 0 71
3 Melbourne L 123 - 86 14 11 25 6 0 2 4 3 2 0 96
4 Carlton W 116 - 30 11 11 22 3 0 2 0 8 0 0 98
5 Hawthorn W 98 - 70 15 15 30 3 0 1 0 6 0 0 109
6 Port Adelaide L 69 - 102 15 12 27 3 0 0 2 4 0 0 88
7 Sydney Swans W 66 - 68 12 12 24 6 0 0 3 4 1 0 91
8 Richmond L 72 - 82 20 18 38 6 0 6 3 7 0 0 139
9 GWS Giants W 112 - 69 9 10 19 4 0 0 0 8 0 0 91
10 Fremantle W 58 - 86 8 12 20 1 0 0 2 8 0 0 77
11 Brisbane Lions W 141 - 87 6 22 28 4 0 2 1 1 1 0 83
12 Geelong Cats L 96 - 59 10 12 22 1 0 2 1 6 1 1 87
14 Western Bulldogs W 75 - 77 10 20 30 4 0 1 2 3 0 0 89
15 Essendon L 125 - 108 11 12 23 8 0 2 1 4 2 0 108
16 Gold Coast Suns W 95 - 58 10 20 30 6 0 2 0 6 0 0 114
17 Sydney Swans L 98 - 104 6 15 21 1 0 1 2 6 0 0 70
18 Collingwood L 130 - 64 10 20 30 4 0 1 1 7 0 1 109
19 West Coast Eagles W 81 - 41 14 25 39 4 0 3 2 10 1 0 147
20 Brisbane Lions W 104 - 107 8 14 22 2 0 1 1 1 1 0 66
21 Western Bulldogs L 85 - 92 14 12 26 5 0 2 2 3 0 0 89
22 Adelaide Crows L 86 - 77 10 6 16 2 0 1 0 7 0 0 77
23 St Kilda W 94 - 117 10 19 29 4 0 0 2 3 0 0 86
TOTAL W: 12 - L: 10 246 317 563 82 0 31 31 113 10 2 2070

By the numbers

  • Career Average
    Games Played 187
    • Kicks 9.0
    • Handballs 11.8
    • Disposals 20.8
    • Marks 2.9
    • Hit-Outs 0.1
    • Tackles 4.8
    • Goals 0.4
    • AFL Fantasy 78.5

Career Highlights

Statistics Best Opponent Round
Kicks 20 Richmond Rd 8, 2018
Handballs 26 St Kilda Rd 13, 2017
Disposals 39 West Coast Eagles Rd 19, 2018
Marks 8 Essendon Rd 15, 2018
Hit-outs 3 Essendon Rd 7, 2015
Tackles 14 Western Bulldogs Rd 6, 2016
Goals 4 Western Bulldogs Rd 21, 2014
AFL Fantasy 147 West Coast Eagles Rd 19, 2018

Career Breakdown

Season Club K H D M HO FF FA T G B AF
2018 North Melbourne 246 317 563 82 0 31 31 113 10 2 2070
2017 North Melbourne 184 327 511 58 0 17 30 97 10 5 1760
2016 North Melbourne 173 297 470 58 5 14 21 98 4 3 1662
2015 North Melbourne 236 312 548 72 8 18 28 107 12 4 1994
2014 North Melbourne 284 268 552 87 1 9 31 140 13 7 2211
2013 North Melbourne 216 205 421 54 0 25 22 96 14 3 1650
2012 North Melbourne 146 221 367 61 2 11 22 107 10 4 1502
2011 North Melbourne 101 106 207 31 1 8 18 63 4 2 841
2010 North Melbourne 104 145 249 43 0 4 22 77 1 3 986

Legend

K
Kicks
H
Handballs
D
Disposals
M
Marks
HO
Hit-outs
FF
Frees For
FA
Frees Against
T
Tackles
G
Goals
B
Behinds
AF
AFL Fantasy points

Milestones

Individual Stats

- Disposals: 12
- Tackles: 4
- One percenters: 3
- Time on Ground: 64%

Individual Stats

- Disposals: 22
- Clearances: 9
- Tackles: 4
- Time on Ground: 73%

Individual Stats

- Disposals: 26
- Marks: 8
- Clearances: 4
- Time on Ground: 82%

NMFC Debut

Round 5, 2010 v Hawthorn
Venue:
Aurora Stadium

North Melbourne: 4.4.28, 6.5.41, 9.6.60, 12.10.82
Hawthorn: 3.1.19, 5.4.34, 7.9.51, 10.10.70

50th Game

Round 20, 2012 v Essendon
Venue:
Etihad Stadium

North Melbourne: 6.2.38, 8.4.52, 11.7.73, 15.10.100
Essendon: 5.2.32, 8.6.54, 9.10.64, 11.10.76

100th Game

Round 1, 2015 v Adelaide
Venue:
Adelaide Oval

North Melbourne: 2.1.13, 3.1.19, 9.4.58, 9.9.63
Adelaide: 6.4.40, 12.10.82, 15.12.102, 21.14.140