A STEP in the right direction.
In what has been an interrupted 2019 campaign for Tom De Koning, the second-year Blue is starting to show what he’s capable of.
VFL Senior Coach Josh Fraser is hopeful that the weekend’s performance - which he labelled as De Koning’s best of the season - can be the youngster’s springboard.
“The last month has been really encouraging,” Fraser said on this week’s Carlton Coaches’ Corner.
“There were positive signs: he’s got to keep building on his performances but it was a big step in the right direction.
“The weekend was a good opportunity for him to shoulder more load through the middle.”
In the absence of Andrew Phillips through suspension, De Koning shone with increased exposure in the ruck.
The 20-year-old collected 17 disposals, seven marks and 30 hitouts as the Northern Blues recorded a memorable win over Port Melbourne.
Fraser believed De Koning would continue to get exposure in the middle and up forward at VFL level.
“I think it gave Tommy more of an opportunity to play to his strengths. He’s got a real athletic ability around the ruck contest,” he said.
“I thought he used his body as well as he has all year against some big opposition and he probably more and more confidence as the match went on.
“At his age and his development, he’s probably going to split his time between forward and ruck — I think he’s more of a forward at this stage.”
Fraser said the VFL program would allow De Koning to continue to build his game as he looks to add to his tally of two senior games which he earned at the end of 2018.
“As he builds his conditioning and his strength and his experience, he’s going to be able to shoulder more and more ruck loads,” he said.
“That’s what we aim to do at VFL level: give him more exposure as the number one ruckman which will hold him in really good stead when he gets to AFL level.
“For Tommy in particular, it’s about building some continuity into his body and finishing the season really strongly in pushing for AFL selection.”