Ben McKay Sydney contract, North Melbourne free agency compensation, Liam Henry Hawthorn

The chances of North Melbourne being granted first-round free agency compensation appear to be growing.

Plus Fremantle has an asking price for a departing Docker.

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Sydney’s offer to free agent Ben McKay would likely hand North Melbourne Pick 3 as compensation, according to multiple reports.

McKay looms as a key piece of this year’s trade period, with the key defender unsigned for next season despite the Kangaroos’ 2023 campaign finishing almost a fortnight ago.

“Everyone at North Melbourne is bracing for him to request a trade,” reporter Mitch Cleary said on Channel 7’s Talking Finals on Tuesday night.

“Rival clubs are often a good gauge when it comes to the market for rival players. Sydney is the strong word out of the opposition clubs that are leading the race at this stage ahead of Essendon and Hawthorn.

“Port Adelaide had shown a bit of interest, but I think they’re further down the path with Esava Ratugolea and a player like Brandon Zerk-Thatcher at the Bombers.”

Asked if the offer McKay receives would be enough to trigger a first-round free agency compensation pick for North Melbourne, Cleary said: “That is the likely scenario at this stage, especially if it’s Sydney.”

Roos’ bid for draft help | 01:06

Pick 3 would be a significant addition to North Melbourne’s draft hand, which already includes Pick 2 and the first-rounder attached to Port Adelaide’s finishing position (currently Pick 16).

The Herald Sun on Wednesday morning reported Sydney, which is in the market for a key back after missing out on Giant Harry Himmelberg and Eagle Tom Barrass, would be prepared to offer McKay a deal worth “more than $800,000” per season.

The same report indicated if the Bombers missed out on McKay, they would work hard to retain key defender Brandon Zerk-Thatcher, who’s out-of-contract and been heavily linked to Port Adelaide.

While he hasn’t officially requested a trade, the Sturt product was pondering whether to move back home to South Australia. The Age reported Zerk-Thatcher would weigh up his future over the next week.

Port Adelaide has also been strongly linked to off-contract Geelong defender Esava Ratugolea, who has interest from Hawthorn as well.


Fremantle would likely ask for a late first-round or early second-round pick from the Victorian club Liam Henry ultimately decides he wants to play for, reports the Herald Sun.

The Dockers last week confirmed Henry had requested to be traded in the upcoming AFL exchange period after playing 43 games in four seasons. It comes after Henry graduated from the club’s Next Generation Academy program, with the Dockers matching Carlton’s bid on him at Pick 9 in the 2019 national draft.

Dockers football boss Peter Bell said his club would “have this investment and his talent as a winger front of mind when looking to facilitate a trade”.

Liam Henry of the Dockers. Picture: Darrian Traynor/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

The Herald Sun on Wednesday reported the Dockers would ask for a draft selection between Picks 15 and 25 in return for losing Henry.

The Age reported Henry had already started meeting Victorian clubs, with Hawthorn viewed as the front-runner ahead of St Kilda.

Henry was one of the Dockers’ success stories during their disappointing 2023 campaign, cementing his spot in the best 22 after the mid-season bye and averaging 23.7 disposals from his last 10 games.

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