ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 13: Ben McKay of the Kangaroos leads thje team off at half time during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the North Melbourne Kangaroos at Adelaide Oval on August 13, 2022 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)

Hawthorn have emerged as the latest club linked to North Melbourne restricted free agent Ben McKay, who has already garnered reported interest from three other rival clubs in 2023.

McKay's future at Arden Street has been questioned throughout the course of the season, with a call on the 25-year-old's future to come following the home and away season.

The Roos are likely to claim their third successive wooden spoon and will do so should they lose to Gold Coast in Round 24, an outcome that could see the struggling Victorian club carry the opening two draft selections into this year's count.

North Melbourne could gain band one compensation if they are to lose McKay through free agency, with a lucrative enough offer to pry the key defender away from the Kangaroos potentially giving the club an additional selection one spot behind their opening draft pick.

A return of Pick 2 would greatly satisfy North Melbourne in the event of parting with McKay, while the club's list team will be prepared to match a lower rival offer and force a trade if required.

McKay won't be short of suitors either, with a bidding war between Essendon, Sydney and Port Adelaide anticipated to break out over the coming weeks.

According to, Hawthorn have emerged as the latest club to be showing some level of interest in McKay's services as they too look to bolster their backline.

Essendon have been touted as the club leading the race for the 202cm talent, while Sydney are likely to have increased their interest after missing out on tall backmen Harrison Himmelberg and Tom Barrass in 2023.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 20: Ben McKay of the Kangaroos handballs during the round 10 AFL match between North Melbourne Kangaroos and Sydney Swans at Marvel Stadium, on May 20, 2023, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Port Adelaide have been in the market for a key defender since late last year, having made a move for Geelong's Esava Ratugolea in 2022 and having seemingly rekindled their interest in the Cats tall this season.

The Hawks have also been tied to Ratugolea, with the Waverley club keen on adding height to their rearguard to support captain James Sicily.

Hawthorn and Essendon are believed to have a wealth of salary cap space in 2023 and could be the most influential parties in the McKay tug-of-war.

The Hawks will likely prioritise draft assets as they continue their rebuild under Sam Mitchell, meaning if North Melbourne were to match their bid for McKay then they could be less open to securing the Gippsland Power product given the need for brokering a trade deal.

Hawthorn currently holds Picks 3, 28, 46 and 75 after trading away their 2023 second-round selection last year to Sydney. Pick 28 was originally the Western Bulldogs' selection, which landed at Fremantle before being handed over to the Hawks during last year's trade window.