FOR THE seventh consecutive year, the McKay match-up will be put on ice.
Curiously, despite having each spent seven years in the AFL system at Carlton and North Melbourne respectively, twin brothers Harry and Ben McKay have still never played against each other.
Harry has played 73 games for the Blues as a key forward and would be a natural opponent for his twin brother Ben, who has played 42 games for the Kangaroos mainly as a key defender.
But form, injury and now suspension – thanks to Ben's one-game rough conduct ban received over the weekend for an incident involving Geelong's Rhys Stanley – has meant the pair have never had the chance to go head-to-head.
Both brothers had slow starts to their AFL careers, with Carlton selecting Harry at pick No.10 in the 2015 NAB AFL Draft and Ben later recruited to North Melbourne with pick No.21.
Neither debuted in their maiden season in the League in 2016, meaning both missed their first chance to play on each other. That was in a 67-point Kangaroos victory midway through that season.
It was a similar situation one year later. Harry waited until round 18 until his first-ever AFL call-up, while Ben made his debut in round 23. That meant they again both missed the round 10 bout between their two sides, which North won by 17 points.
Harry finally established himself as a key pillar in Carlton's forward line in 2018, but only received a call-up after – you guessed it – the side's horror 86-point defeat to North Melbourne in Tasmania.
That came in round four of the 2018 season, with Harry called up for the first time in round five. Ben, having played just one game in his career at that point, didn't manage a senior appearance at all throughout that particular campaign.
Harry finally played his first game against North Melbourne in 2019. But it was one to forget, as the key forward was held goalless from just three disposals in a disappointing 58-point loss.
It wasn't his brother Ben who had kept him quiet, though. After winning a contract extension on the eve of the season and playing the first three games, he was sent back to the VFL and wasn't seen again for the rest of the year.
Ben did finally play against Carlton in 2020, selected for their clash at the Gabba – which the Blues won by seven points – after finally establishing himself as a mainstay in the North Melbourne backline.
Harry, too, was named in the Carlton team – only to be replaced by emergency Callum Moore just an hour before the first bounce after it was revealed he was battling knee soreness.
Ben again played for North Melbourne when it defeated Carlton by 39 points in 2021. Harry, on his way to a Coleman Medal by this stage, was also on the cusp of featuring. Named in the initial team, he was then withdrawn a day before the game with a toe injury.
Fans had already been querying whether the footy world would finally get the match-up this week, with Harry playing through a knee injury during Carlton's loss to Fremantle last Saturday night.
But his fitness won't be the issue, with Ben suspended for a bump that left Stanley dazed during North Melbourne's loss to Geelong on Sunday. The incident came with four minutes left to play in the game.
Maybe next year?