In 2022 Ben McKay has well and truly established himself as the No.1 key defender at North Melbourne, and one of the top intercept marks in the AFL.
It’s been a slow burn for McKay to reach his current heights though. Drafted as a potential key forward in 2015 he converted into a defensive role in his second year in the AFL system.
In those early years down back though he found himself behind Syd Barker Medal-winning pair and iconic North key defensive duo Scott Thompson and Robbie Tarrant. He had to patiently ply his trade at VFL level before earning his opportunity in the seniors.
“‘Larks’ (Nick Larkey) can probably attest to it as well, it’s frustrating in those first couple of years. In 2017-18 we were both in form playing VFL footy, but it’s held us both in good stead,” McKay said on the latest Member Q&A, presented by AIA.
“We had the opportunity to put on a bit of size and learn our craft a bit in the VFL, and you see a lot of key position players do that all across the league.
“It was very important to learn that, then the AFL is a slightly different game with the pace of it, but you have to learn your craft at a lower level and try to implement it at AFL level.”
McKay isn’t the only star footballer in his family, as twin brother Harry continues to make waves at Carlton. As the reigning Coleman Medal winner he’s among the top key forwards in the AFL.
For their whole careers they have been beset by questions about playing together, on top of the well-publicised joke that due to the incredible fact they’ve never met on the field they’re actually the same person.
Ben says he and his brother are happy forging their own paths in the AFL.
“It’d be nice if he (Harry) came here, but I think we’re pretty happy at our own clubs,” he said.
“He’s obviously going well and the Blues are up and about but I think we’ve forged our own careers.
“I think we’re pretty happy running our own paths."
Ben will play his 50th AFL game on Sunday against Essendon at Marvel Stadium.