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Ben Cunnington return, testicular cancer, crying, post-game interview, video, North Melbourne vs Adelaide

North Melbourne star Ben Cunnington has made an inspirational return to AFL level, ending a 385-day absence from the senior side as he dealt with testicular cancer.

Cunnington has endured a wretched run of luck in recent times, undergoing surgery to remove a tumor in July last year before undergoing a nine-week course of chemotherapy following a secondary diagnosis last November.

On Saturday, Cunnington embraced his partner and then walked out on to the Adelaide Oval field with his three children, with the 31-year-old visibly overcome with emotion.

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Absolute scenes! Cunnington to play AFL | 02:57

While North Melbourne eventually lost to Adelaide on Saturday, Cunnington’s return remained the standout moment, with the two-time best-and-fairest winner opening up to Fox Footy post-game.


Leigh Montagna: Give us a bit of a feel for how the emotions were coming back into the game…

Ben Cunnington: Mate it’s huge, especially where we’ve come from and Belinda’s been right there from the start. We have three little kids, we just had a newborn and then about a week later I started chemo so she’s been a rock, been there for every bit of it so I honestly couldn’t have got back without her. She’s cried about two or three times in her whole life and to see her in tears, it wasn’t the best prep but it was good to just take it all in and appreciate where we’ve been.

David King: What was it like pulling the jumper back on?

BC: I spoke to the boys during the week and you get a bit complacent and you think you might be done with the game but until it gets taken away from you, you quickly realize how much you do love it. To get another opportunity at playing, I couldn’t be more appreciative and grateful. Even though we lost, I still can’t stop smiling and just trying to appreciate the ride now.

Mark Ricciuto: Where there times throughout that period where you thought you might not get back?

BC: Yeah. Even during the treatment, I could barely get out of bed to go to the toilet without collapsing or feeling crook, you name it. The first month was just walking and learning pretty much how to walk again, and get the strength and the k’s under the legs. It started from rock bottom. There were a few hiccups, it definitely questioned me when I got back just because the time was ticking, I felt I really worked hard enough to get back this year and didn’t want to carry it into the off season because I feel like I could tick it off and go into the off season being normal, I could still play some good footy next year. There were definitely times I thought I was in a bit of trouble.

DK: What does tonight look like for you?

BC: It was a bit tough being an away game … but I’m glad I played the VFL, I was a bit underdone. I’ve just got the immediate family across tonight, we’ll stay the night, go out for dinner and really let it all soak in.