Blues’ De Koning looking forward to some ruck and roll

Anna Harrington |

Tom De Koning is happy, settled and standing up when Carlton need him.

The talented, athletic ruckman has taken time to develop, playing around the ball and up forward.

But the 24-year-old big man has found his feet now. 

With Marc Pittonet (finger) sidelined against Gold Coast, De Koning took on Jarrod Witts and played a pivotal role in Carlton’s 29-point win on Saturday, collecting 25 disposals, 10 clearances and 27 hitouts.

“It was good to give our midfielders some access and get the ball moving forward,” he told AAP.

“I really try and build that connection with them. We do a lot of work throughout the week on different stoppage techniques, and for me it’s just about being predictable for them. 

“The more I can do that and bring that to the game and bring them into the game, then that means I’m getting my role done.

“I probably try and focus more on my follow-up and my ground-level stuff, and I feel like the rest of the game will take care of itself if I do that.”

Carlton's Tom De Koning.
Carlton’s Tom De Koning has shown versatility, whether in the ruck, at ground level or up forward. (Rob Prezioso/AAP PHOTOS)

Now, De Koning feels like he can handle solo ruck duties – but knows can also impact up forward.

“It’s been good to be exposed to that forward role as well and get some good looks down forward and learn how to play with Harry (McKay) and Charlie (Curnow),” he said. 

“Now the time has come to play more ruck, I’ve had a lot of exposure there in the last couple of years, so I’m really enjoying both roles.”

De Koning has come a long way from last year, when he was dropped to find form and dealt with speculation over whether he would seek a trade.

He played the final 10 games of last season, then signed for two more years.

“I really love this group. I feel like we’re a really tight-knit group and we’re all very close. I couldn’t see myself anywhere else,” De Koning said.

Tom de Koning (centre).
Tom De Koning (centre) is delighted to have signed a two-year deal to stay at Carlton. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

“There was a bit of noise last year, but that’s obviously going to come.

“It was just up to me and Vossy (coach Michael Voss) and the rest of the group just to not think about that too much and focus on my footy and play my role, and that’s what I’ve been doing.”

Voss was delighted with his ruckman’s development.

“Where he’s really matured as a player is his consistency. To be able to do it over four quarters and bring that energy is something he’s grown in his game,” he said. 

“And he does grow with that responsibility.”

Next up is Port Adelaide ruckman Jordon Sweet and the Power’s stacked midfield, including Zak Butters, Connor Rozee and Jason Horne-Francis, on Thursday night.

“It’s gonna be a huge challenge,” De Koning said.

“So we’ll do our work throughout the week and come up with a good plan and hopefully we can go over there and do well.”