TOM De Koning is settling in well to life as an AFL ruckman.
Having now played five of the last six games at the highest level, De Koning has taken his competitors head on, drawing attention from the footy world.
A ruckman since a young age, De Koning has relished the opportunity to compete against some of the best big men in the AFL at the centre bounce.
“I rucked against Grundy the other day: in my under 18s, I watched him a lot and he’s probably one of my idols. Just to play up against him is pretty crazy,” De Koning said.
“I’ve been doing pretty well dealing with the bigger-bodied ruckman. I still have a bit of size to put on myself but I’ve been really enjoying having the opportunity to be a ruckman in the AFL.”
De Koning noted that Senior Coach David Teague has been one of his biggest supporters, always encouraging him to play to his strengths.
“[Teague] gives us a lot of encouragement heading into games just to play to our strengths and bring our weapons and for me, it gives me a huge amount of confidence,” he said.
“He’s chosen me because of the things I do well and he encourages me before every game to bring that, so it’s a pretty clear focus going into games.”
De Koning also applauded the way that Teague backs in the younger group of players to take the game head-on and stand up when it matters.
“There've been multiple times this year when young blokes have stepped up, ‘Walshy’ has had an awesome year, each week we seem to be growing even more,” he said.
“There are so many players who - when given the opportunity - are stepping up to the plate, and it’s good to see."