THE BATTLE of the brothers is shaping up at Marvel Stadium on Saturday.
Despite being in the League together for almost six full seasons, twins Harry and Ben McKay are set to face off for the first time this weekend – and all signs point to them spending a lot of time together when Carlton meets North Melbourne.
Harry, who remains the red-hot favourite for this year's Coleman Medal after booting 52 goals from his first 17 games, will face his toughest challenge yet. That will come against brother Ben, one of the most improved key defenders in the League this year.
The twins were recruited 11 picks apart in the 2015 NAB AFL Draft, but form and fitness issues throughout their time in the competition have meant they are yet to meet in an AFL match.
It hasn't stopped the barbs from both sides, though. In May, Ben claimed he would never play on his brother, saying: "I normally take the best forward." In June, Harry responded, saying: "Ben might be in the twos by then."
The debate as to whether or not they will finally meet – and potentially square off in a direct match-up – continued on Thursday, with Kangaroos coach David Noble suggesting it will happen at some stage during the game.
"It's one of the scenarios, isn't it?" Noble said.
"We've got a couple of good defenders down there, but there will definitely be a time where they're on each other. There's no escaping that. Whether or not we'll set the brothers for each other, it's yet to be determined.
"The way our defence moves sometimes, it does have flexibility and you need to cover different roles. But there will be a point in time where they're playing on each other."
Carlton coach David Teague also faced the media on Thursday, saying Harry's attentions weren't focused on Ben but rather on delivering another performance worthy of closing on the Coleman Medal.
"I suppose North Melbourne will make those selections," Teague said.
"That could occur. I think that Harry is such a professional player, he'll go out there regardless of who the opponent is and be the best that he can be. This week is no different.
"Yes, there's a great story from an external point of view. But for Harry, it'll be an opposition player in an opposition jumper that he'll want to beat. We just need to make sure we get the delivery down there to him and give him some chances one-on-one."
Both sides are set to be bolstered by some experienced inclusions for the fixture, with Carlton co-captain Patrick Cripps likely to recover from soreness. However, veteran Marc Murphy will face a fitness test on Thursday as he looks to recover from a calf injury.
Murphy hasn't featured for the last three matches and faces a race against the clock to return for his 300th game before season's end. The 34-year-old needs just four more games to reach the landmark milestone, with five matches remaining in the year.
"Patrick seems really good at this stage. He'll train today and as long as he gets through training today, then he should play," Teague said.
"Marc will also train today and he's a test as well. We'll have a look at how he trains and then we'll have a look at what his loads have been like over the last couple of weeks. That will probably impact his availability this week."
North Melbourne will also have some handy inclusions, with important midfielder Ben Cunnington likely to return to the side having remained in Victoria for last Sunday's loss to Essendon at Metricon Stadium.
Hard-nosed onballer Jed Anderson is also on the cusp of a comeback following a long-term ankle injury, while wingman Jared Polec is in the frame to play following a lengthy stint on the sidelines with a hamstring issue.
"Ben did a load over the weekend and it wasn't a bad time for him to have a bit of a spell, going into the last four or five games, but he'll be straight back in," Noble said.
"I think Jed and Jared are both chances. We'll look at the structure of that. They had a session here on Saturday morning with one of our staff members that stayed back. I think 'Boomer' came in and did some footy work with them as well."