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Latest Silvagni keen to continue family affair

Ben Silvagni in action for Vic Metro - AFL,Carlton Blues,Draft
Ben Silvagni in action for Vic Metro

BEN Silvagni has always wanted to play for Carlton.

With a surname that is synonymous with the football club, it's little surprise that the draft hopeful is motivated by the prospect of one day pulling on the navy blue jumper.

But if following in the footsteps of his grandfather Sergio and his father Stephen started Ben's desperation to one day play for Carlton, the potential of joining his older brother and best mate Jack at the club has made him all the more determined to get to Ikon Park.

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About an inch taller than his older brother, standing at 194cm and 84kg, Ben's final year of junior footy mirrored Jack's 2018 campaign in many ways. Both started the year forward, but due to a number of factors finished the season finding a new home in defence.

However, regardless of which end of the field he's asked to play at AFL level next season and beyond, Ben is just hoping it's alongside his older brother at Carlton.

"It's been pretty cool watching him," Ben told AFL.com.au.

"Since he got drafted, I've just known that I want to play with him. Even before that, I've done everything I can to give myself that opportunity to play with him.

"We get along so well, it would be awesome to work with him and play footy with him every day."

With three Silvagni boys hopeful of one day making it to Carlton – the youngest son, Tom, will be draft eligible in 2020 – Ben says there was always going to be a fight for the No.1 jumper made famous across 13 years by Serge and another 17 years by Stephen.

Andrew Walker occupied the No.1 locker when Jack came through the system in 2016, meaning he wore No.2 throughout his first season with the Blues. Walker retired at the end of that campaign, passing the jumper number onto Jack – a setback for Ben, obviously.

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"At the start, when I was about 16, I thought hopefully they'll save that for me," he laughed.

"I was probably a little bit immature at that stage, they were never going to hold it off Jack for two or three years for me."

Similarly, Ben's football has also matured over the past 12 months.

Having started the year playing as a lead-up forward in the TAC Cup with the Chargers, Ben showed glimpses of his potential. One clash against the Knights in April yielded 23 disposals, 10 marks and 2.4 in front of goal – arguably his best display for the year.

But prior to a thumb injury ending his season, his work as a lockdown defender with Vic Metro in the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships highlighted his ability to play at both ends.

It demonstrated his talent and flexibility and reflected a key bit of advice from his family.

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"Dad's just told me to be myself and to not try and be someone else," he said.

"That's the advice he gave me, he just said to leave it all out there with my testing and my footy. There are no second chances here.

"I've also spoken to Jack, he's been really supportive and he's always asking how everything is going. He's been a really good supporter of my career so far.

"He gives me feedback and support when I need it, he tells me what I do right and wrong when he comes to watch me. He's been really good in that aspect."

The Silvagni name is one of the most famous in the history of both the game and Carlton.

Serge was a 239-game player and two-time premiership winner with the Blues, Stephen was a 312-game player, two-time premiership winner and proud Team of the Century member.

Ben is carried out by his dad in Stephen's 300th game for Carlton. Picture: AFL Photos

To follow in their footsteps at Carlton has meant a certain weight of expectation has been heaped on the shoulders of the newest Silvagnis. But Ben has taken it all in his stride.

"There's always been a little bit of pressure on me to be good at footy," he said.

"Towards the age of 17 and 18, I've just tried to prove myself and tell myself that it's not just my name that's got me to where I am. I've worked my butt off to get to where I am.

"I've just tried to block it out. I am my own person and I've not let it affect me."

Carlton matched a father-son bid from Essendon on Jack at pick No.53 in the 2015 NAB AFL Draft. Recruiters believe a bid in the same vicinity for Ben is likely this November.

The Blues have picks 69, 71 and 77 late in the draft, so matching a bid somewhere similar for Ben shouldn't be an issue. Not that they've made any promises just yet.

"They've contacted me a little bit," he said.

"But there are no guarantees. I'm just like any other kid."