SECOND-YEAR Saint Ben Long is attracting interest from Melbourne and Essendon, the club his dual premiership-winning uncle Michael won a Norm Smith Medal at 25 years ago. 

The hard-nosed forward has impressed since being the No.25 pick in the 2016 NAB AFL Draft and only a broken right foot prevented him playing more than 10 games this year. 

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Long received a NAB AFL Rising Star nomination in St Kilda's round five draw with Greater Western Sydney, when he demonstrated his class with a brilliant finish that brought the Saints within six points. understands the 21-year-old's preference is to stay at the Saints and he is contracted for next year, but his name has been raised in trade discussions this week.

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It is unclear whether Long could potentially be part of any deal that would send wantaway Demon Dean Kent to St Kilda.

Long captained the Northern Territory at under-18 level and his excellent reading of the play makes him equally viable as a defender. 

The Darwin-raised talent missed out on being drafted in 2015 before surging into contention with six goals in Footscray's VFL preliminary final triumph a year later. 


Long's cousin, another Norm Smith medallist in Cyril Rioli, was pivotal in helping him deal with homesickness in his early months boarding at Melbourne Grammar, where he spent his last three school years.

Two other premiership footballers in Richmond's Daniel Rioli and West Coast's Willie Rioli are also related to Long. 

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Michael Long played 190 matches and kicked 143 goals for the Bombers between 1989 and 2001, helping pave the way for more Aboriginal players to get their chance at the highest level. 

He is also a legendary figure in campaigning for indigenous rights, most famously standing up against racism in an incident in the 1995 Anzac Day clash with Collingwood.