Max out for bragging rights in battle of the Kings

Max King v Ben King Round 8 2021
Max King (L) will face off against twin brother Ben for the second time in the AFL. Photo: St Kilda FC

St Kilda spearhead Max King has made sure to remind twin brother Ben of the head-to-head record before their sides renew acquaintances on Saturday afternoon.

Much like a quarterback rivalry in the NFL, Max and Ben won’t be able to stop each other from kicking a bag and leading their side to victory. However, they will be the focal point of their side’s attack and will go a long way to dictating how the match plays out, and who comes out on top.

It’s a head-to-head that Max King holds a 1-0 lead in, and he’s been making sure Ben knows it heading into the clash.

“It’s always good lining up against Ben,” King said.

“We talk every week so this week won’t be very different. I’m 1-0 in our games at the moment so I’ve been reminding him of that a little bit.

“It’s always a good opportunity to play against each other.”

It was a rare circumstance in August last year when they lined up for opposing teams having played their junior footy in the same side growing up.

However, playing for opposing teams and living in different states hasn’t stopped them from driving each other to succeed, with some friendly competition.

“Growing up, with a twin brother especially, you’re always pushing each other. Especially when you have the same goals of making it to [the] AFL,” King said.

“You always want to help each other and see each other do better. That’s no different now that we’re at different clubs – I love seeing him do well and he loves that for me as well.

“Gold Coast [is] pretty much my second team, I love watching Ben play.”

Watching his brother play has been a common theme in Max King’s burgeoning career, having sat out his top age year with a knee injury before the 2018 AFL Draft.

“When I did my knee in my under 18s year, I [used to] go to all his games and watch him play which was my best day of the week.

“It was pretty exciting to watch some footy and feel invested watching him play. It’s something I still love now, watching him play.”

King’s rehabilitation carried through to his first season with the Saints. He then worked his way to AFL level through the VFL in 2019.

Ben King has consequently managed to play 38 games over his three seasons in the league, kicking 62 goals in that period. Meanwhile, Max has managed 24 games after being taken at pick four in the draft, two spots earlier than his brother. He’s kicked 33 goals in the AFL so far.

The Saints talisman wouldn’t buy into the talk surrounding who’s the better player at this early juncture in their careers, however, he did admit that Ben had been exceptional this season. He sits equal fourth in the Coleman Medal race after seven rounds.

“He’s going pretty well at the moment which is great to see,” King stated.

Individually for King, the goal-kicker has struggled with his conversion rate in 2021, kicking an even 11 goals and 11 behinds on the season.

“I’m just looking to get better each week. My goal kicking and some other aspects of my game need a lot of work.

[I’m] just putting a lot of work in during the week and keep trying to improve, keep trying to get better.

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St Kilda had a big win against Hawthorn on the weekend, but its form in the early rounds has left a lot to be desired. For a side with the oldest list in the competition and predicted to make another finals run, King knows it’s imperative to continue this newfound form his side has gained.

“We’ve been pretty inconsistent to start,” King admitted.

“We were very happy with how he played on the weekend – we felt like we needed to bounce back and make a bit of a statement so we did that.

“Now we just hope that each week we can keep building and play that consistent footy that we did on the weekend.”

Getting the ruck duo of Paddy Ryder and Rowan Marshall back on the weekend is a huge step in the right direction. Both players have been sorely missed this season, and now provide a huge boost to St Kilda’s aspirations this season.

“They’re huge for us,” King said.

“We love Paddy [Ryder] and it’s great to see him happy and back playing, back contributing for us.

“It frees up Rowan [Marshall] a little bit that he can move forward and change with him in the ruck. I know our mids are really grateful to have those two playing together.”

With Marshall moving forward for extended patches in games, King has found himself with more space to attack the ball in the forward 50.

“It frees me up a little bit having another target down there.

“Rowan’s really worked on his forward craft and he’s a pretty handy forward down there.

“It just adds another string to our bow.”

Max and Ben King are the sixth set of twins in V/AFL history to play against each other in the competition. While growing up St Kilda supporters, Ben is content on the Gold Coast and Max knows they may never play in the same side at the AFL level.

“I’m not quite in his ear [about moving to St Kilda] – he’s happy up there at the moment,” Max laughed.

“I’ll leave him [to] make his decisions for himself.”

Ben King is signed until the end of 2022 for Gold Coast and will be determined to even the ledger against his brother Max when the duo goes head-to-head for the four points on Saturday afternoon.

With goals on the upward trend in 2021, fans can look forward to an old-fashioned shoot-out between the King twins in round eight.

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