When you delve down into what has actually allowed the world’s best athletes to reach the pinnacle of their professions there’s always one common denominator. Work ethic.

The insatiable desire to improve, the thirst to be better each week, and the obsession with defeating whoever is in front of you are all crucial aspects for anyone to reach their potential.

That desire to improve and elite level work ethic is a large part of Ben McKay’s improvement in 2021, with the key-defender set to continue his development in North Melbourne colours for years to come.

While everyone at North is aware of McKay’s efforts on the training track, none are more tuned into it than defensive coach John Blakey, who says the 23-year-old deserves everything coming his way.

“His preparation and the work he does to study his opponents, look for their strengths and weaknesses, get himself out on the track to do extras, [he’s] non-stop working on his game,” Blakey said on the latest Member Q & A, presented by AIA.

“I just think his preparation to get the best out of himself is very, very good … the aerial work, his ground level work, his footwork to be able to stick with these guys.

“It doesn’t matter who you are … you’ve always got to keep developing your game because if you don’t, you quickly get left behind.”

52:38 Mins
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Member Q & A: The coaches (June 8, 2021)

North Melbourne's coaching group sits down to answer the members' questions.

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With McKay's rapid ascension to the upper echelon of the AFL’s key-defenders, it can be easy to forget just how comparatively inexperienced he is.

With only 15 games under his belt prior to the 2021 season, it’s no surprise that he keeps getting better week in, week out.

Blakey says he’s excited to see just how god McKay can become in North’s colours.

“You’ve got to remember he’s only played 20-odd games. He hasn’t played a lot of footy,” Blakey said.

“He’s actually still learning his craft, albeit he’s doing it very well. 

“He’s got to continually improve and continually look for ways to make sure he stays on the top of his game … he really puts the work in there to do that.”