An uncompromising inside midfielder, Cunnington was selected at pick five by North Melbourne in the 2009 NAB AFL Draft. Cunnington was a very impressive draft candidate during his U18 years as captain for the Geelong Falcons in the TAC Cup as well as in his representation for Vic Country during the National Championships. Ben’s final year in representative football also saw him selected in the U18 All-Australian side. His uncompromising brand of football was what caught the eye of North Melbourne recruiters, hence their decision to draft him in the first round with pick 5.
Ben began his AFL career during the 2010 season when he debuted against Hawthorn in Round 5. Cunnington played a total of 18 games across the first 18 games of his debut season, collecting an impressive 77 tackles.
Cunnington experienced some inconsistencies throughout his 2011 and 2012 campaigns, however did find some games where he managed new heights. Across his 36 games, Ben struggled to find form in patches however more noticeably, found games where he collected career high disposals of 33 against GWS in 2013. Furthermore, Ben was one of North’s shining lights in the 2013 elimination final, showing he was a big game player.
Since 2013, Cunnington has made significant improvements on his game, improving his impact on games throughout the season. 2013 saw Ben average 21 disposals per game whilst 2014 saw that improve to 22 disposals a game. Furthermore, Ben is a defensive beast around the stoppages also, applying tackling to be a key part of his midfield role. In 2014, Ben made an average of 5.6 tackles a game and saw himself earn his first NMFC Best and Fairest.
Following his 2014 success, Cunnington went on to finish 2nd in the same award in years 2015 and 2017. His 2017 campaign saw him achieve a career-high of 25.6 disposals and 4.9 tackles for the season. Cunnington has been praised by the club and teammates as one of the most professional and mature footballers to come through the system. North has illustrated their trust in Ben’s future by signing the robust midfielder until the end of the 2020 season.