Player Watch #10: Ben Cunnington - will return to the senior AFL side against Adelaide in Rd22 - welcome back Cunners you legend

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Norm Smith Medallist
Sep 11, 2014
AFL Club
North Melbourne
NORTH Melbourne will use the next three weeks to decide on a potential return date for star midfielder Ben Cunnington, as he continues his recovery from a secondary diagnosis of testicular cancer.

Cunnington returned to football drills at training on Tuesday, having recently increased his high-conditioning loads, with the Kangaroos to use an important next period to decide upon if and when the veteran will return this season.

The dual North Melbourne best and fairest underwent surgery to remove a tumour in July last year, before completing a nine-week course of chemotherapy to treat a secondary diagnosis last November.

The club will continue to be patient with Cunnington, putting no pressure on his return, though head of performance Kevin White said on Tuesday the Kangaroos were pleased with the 30-year-old's progress.

"He's going really well," White said.

"He's moved now from two high-conditioning sessions on the ground to three. He's probably had three to four weeks of that now. He's integrated (on Tuesday) back into some of the football drills. Over the next few weeks, it's that percentage of training and percentage of conditioning with him.

"We're looking now at a really strong three-week block to progress and integrate into the main group. We'll take it then at the end of that three weeks to assess where he lies in terms of his head and his body towards a return-to-play at the end of that point

"But, like always, there's no real pressure on him at this point in terms of having a date to return to play. The pleasing thing is that he's got a real return-to-play mindset on him at the minute.

"He's graduating week-on-week through some really good loads and consistent loading. (Tuesday) was another really good step for 'Cunners' in reintegrating with the main group through some skills."

By Riley Beveridge

Best news for 2022


Premium Gold
Dec 2, 2001
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Other Teams
Just wonderful news. Just hope that it is not too soon to be contemplating a return to footy, in case it triggers another bout of cancer.


All Australian
Feb 18, 2020
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Other Teams
Leeds United
Anyone know what the return game might be? Assuming they will want a home game in Melbourne in front of his family.

Chance of playing against Richmond (Round 18)?


Premium Gold
Jul 22, 2002
Arden St
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Just wonderful news. Just hope that it is not too soon to be contemplating a return to footy, in case it triggers another bout of cancer.
Don't think there's any evidence that activity will change the likelihood of recurrence, so thanfully that's not a concern. It's going to be whether someone feels they've reached the appropriate level of fitness, both mentally and physically.

Mr Lloyd Christmas

Club Legend
Day Off
May 5, 2022
AFL Club
North Melbourne
If he's interested, he has my vote for Captain next year.

I am absolutely confident the team considers him the Captain already.

To me he is our Captain, whether he has the formal title or not.

You only need to listen to his peers and how highly they think of him. (internal and external)

He doesn't like media work, and would not want the role nor need it I like him even more for being the way he is.

ArchKing Carey

Club Legend
Jun 17, 2011
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Other Teams
Toronto Raptors, Arsenal FC
For a bloke that had literal poison pumped into his veins a few months ago, he looks in ripping nick.

Just him being at training and having fun would do a tonne for morale of the group.
I reckon he will take JHF under his wing, JHF will take up fishing

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Massive Unit

The Devil Incarnate
Feb 8, 2011
Melbourne baby!!
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Other Teams
I would love for Ben to take both JHF and LDU under his wing in a mentoring capacity.

This pair are going to be our midfield bulls for the next 10 years (assuming Jason recommits) and I think the wisdom he could impart to both would far outweigh anything coming from the coaching panel. Commands a literal mountain of respect.

I don't care what else is going on in my life, I'll be there for Cunners return game!


Club Legend
Jun 18, 2007
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Other Teams
Bayern Munich
When the great man returns Hb and Family will be there.

When they showed Cunners on the TV last night and said he may return Junior HB whos 9 cried at the dinner table.
Big turnaround seems he wanted to jump ship a month ago but seems the kid is rusted on North.

I will tear up when he runs out.

Couldn't mean any more to this club.

One of the most loved North players ever to pull the jumper on.


Brownlow Medallist
Feb 1, 2008
AFL Club
North Melbourne

I strongly believe even seeing Cunners running around and being involved will absolutely lift the entire team​


Cunnington's potential return gives Roos a 'pep in their step'​

Midfield bull Ben Cunnington is making great progress in his recovery from testicular cancer

ON THE comeback trail following his cancer battle, Ben Cunnington is providing a significant boost for downtrodden North Melbourne.

The veteran midfielder has been ramping up his training schedule at Arden St as he eyes a remarkable return to the AFL.

The Kangaroos have not had much to smile about this season as they sit 1-12 following 11 straight defeats and mounting pressure on coach David Noble.

But North will use the next three weeks to decide on a return date for Cunnington, who completed a nine-week course of chemotherapy to treat a secondary testicular cancer diagnosis last November.

"We'll just wait and see how his body recovers, as we start to increase the loads," Noble told reporters on Thursday.

"It's brought a real pep in our step with him coming back out and the boys are very excited to get him back out into some of our main training sets.

"Our fans should be looking forward to something in the next few weeks, we're hoping.

"There's obviously some areas Ben needs to tick off from a medical perspective; diet, running, weights and recovery.

"But he's been really diligent and he's had other players in that rehab group so he's had some company, which is always good."

Kanga Glory

Premium Platinum
Nov 1, 2010
arden st
AFL Club
North Melbourne


Premium Platinum
Apr 3, 2008
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Other Teams
Man Utd, Celtic, Kildare
The Richmond game would be a great stage for Ben to return - if we are playing competitive football by then. You’d reckon it’s too soon, though. The Sydney game is a more obvious option - if he’s ready.

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