Ben’s back: Cunnington to make incredible AFL return for North Melbourne after cancer battle and short stint in the VFL
In a yr of AFL fairytales, inspirational North Melbourne midfielder Ben Cunnington is about to add his personal chapter when he makes his return to senior stage this week following his battle with cancer.
Cunnington is a confirmed starter towards Adelaide on Saturday, having returned to motion via the VFL final weekend. He joins Carlton’s Sam Docherty (who additionally returned following cancer remedy), Sydney’s Paddy McCartin (who retired after concussion points), and Geelong’s Tyson Stengle (who was delisted after a collection of misdemeanours) as 2022’s feel-good comeback tales.
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The 31-year-old has recovered from two bouts of testicular cancer, which had stored him out of soccer since July final yr.
Cunnington’s long-awaited senior recall was ticked off on Wednesday, when the two-time Kangaroos best-and-fairest winner and interim coach Leigh Adams addressed the enjoying group in an emotional announcement.
“I love my life outside of footy and you think you can finish up (playing) and be happy with that,” Cunnington advised his teammates.
“But until it sort of gets taken away from you and you’ve got no control over that, you soon realise that you’re still loving it.
“I went through what I’ve had to go through and without the support I couldn’t have got through.
“But I’m here now, hungry, and I feel I’ve worked hard to be in a position to hopefully help the boys out again. I’m keen as ever.”
Cunnington tweaked a calf muscle and produced a optimistic COVID take a look at as he neared a return in latest weeks.
He gathered 18 possessions – together with the first clearance of the match – towards Sydney in the VFL final Sunday and pulled up from his first match in 379 days with just some basic soreness.
The six-day turnaround between the VFL look and Saturday’s Adelaide Oval fixture was a consideration for Cunnington, Adams and membership medical employees as they labored via the midfielder’s choice.
Adams mentioned Cunnington had a giant say in the remaining determination.
“He’s such a proud person, he’ll still expect to go out there and get 30 touches because that’s the sort of champion he is,” Adams mentioned.
Cunnington is on observe for an emotional look in entrance of dwelling followers when North Melbourne’s 2022 marketing campaign ends towards Gold Coast at Marvel Stadium in spherical 23.
In the meantime, Cameron Zurhaar might be trying to proceed his robust kind towards Adelaide after kicking 13 objectives in 4 matches since Adams took the interim teaching reins.
The out-of-contract ahead is reportedly a commerce goal for Essendon however Adams expects Zurhaar to make a call on his future as soon as the membership’s subsequent coach is confirmed.
“He’s playing some good footy at the moment. I’d personally love him to stay,” Adams mentioned.
“He’d probably want to know who is going to be the coach next year. That’s fair enough, everyone would like to know who their boss is when they’re going to work.
“Hopefully that gets sorted and then that makes it easier for him to make a decision, and hopefully that is to stay here.”
Key defender Ben McKay is predicted to be obtainable for the conflict with Adelaide after being a late withdrawal final week due to a shoulder subject.