When Ben McKay was selected with the 21st pick of the 2015 NAB AFL Draft, he was known in some circles as ‘the other McKay’, but he’s proven to be anything but.
The 23-year-old twin of Carlton forward Harry McKay, is forging a reputation as one of the best key defenders following matchups with the likes of Tom Hawkins, Ben Brown and Taylor Walker.
McKay says attention to detail and preparation are keys to success.
“I’d normally look at the last game they (opponent) played … maybe two rounds before and just pick up any traits … [and] any sort of things they’re going well in,” McKay explained to North Media.
“You tend to pick up a few cues every now and then, and it’s pretty obvious how they go about it. Then it’s just a bit of a game plan about how to negate that, and then you’ve got to go out and do it.
“I think that’s sort of my personality to make sure I’ve ticked every box to make sure I’m as prepared as possible, because it’s a pretty important role.”
In the absence of Robbie Tarrant, Aidan Corr and Luke McDonald, McKay has had to develop quickly.
“Corry and Taz - they’ve both played over 100 games … and [have] continued to be really good support for me,” he said
“Although those guys haven’t been out there, there’s been plenty of other guys to help everyone else out and play their roles.
“Walks (Josh Walker) and Bon (Aiden Bonar) have really stepped up I reckon, and Jack (Ziebell) as well.”
Now a critical part of North’s future, McKay still has plenty of room to improve alongside his young teammates.
After last weekend’s solid team performance against Melbourne, he says the side is filled with exciting talent, and the only way is up.
“Obviously from a team point of view it’s been disappointing, and not winning a game yet has been pretty tough, but I think we’ve taken some pretty good steps … it’s a slow sort of burn but I reckon it’s going to turn pretty quick,” he said.
“You’ve got to look at guys like Charlie Lazzaro, Powelly (Tom Powell), Will Phillips, all those sort of guys who are coming along.
“It’s proven we can play some good footy. Although its only in dribs and drabs I think it’s going to come along sooner rather than later.
“I think the fans can get excited because they know we can do it, it’s just putting it together game after game. I’m really excited and I think we’re going places."