Tom De Koning is a promising youngster who many Carlton fans have been bullish about for a few years now.
The athletic 21-year-old big man has been biding his time in the VFL since he was drafted by the Blues in 2017, often playing a hybrid forward/ruck role.
Following a pair of senior games late in the 2018 season, De Koning returned to AFL level in the Round 11 loss to West Coast before contributing to last weekend’s thrilling last-gasp win over Fremantle with eight possessions and 21 hit-outs.
Ahead of tonight’s crunch clash with Gold Coast, for which the Blues have recalled Marc Pittonet, the question of De Koning playing in the same side as a ruckman was raised on SEN’s The Match Committee.
Terry Wallace says he sees the 203cm De Koning developing into a player who can have an impact around the ground as well as inside forward 50.
“He’s played that role in the VFL quite regularly,” he said.
“I’ve always sat there and said, ‘What is he?’. Is he the ruckman? Is he the forward? Is he the forward/ruck?
“I don’t think we have a definitive answer to where he finishes in his career. I’ve got a gut feeling he can be that really mobile, athletic ruckman, sort of more like a Tim English type.
“But we still have to wait and see how that plays out.”
Wallace added: “Carlton fans will tell you, he’s been really exciting in the VFL for a couple of seasons now.
“It hasn’t been a matter of if, it’s just been a matter of when. How long before they play him? How much do you hold him back?
“He’s come in and he’s shown that he can play the game.”
The duo of De Koning and Pittonet will have to work well in tandem when they come up against the experienced Jarrod Witts if the Blues are to get the better of the Suns in Darwin.
Regarding Carlton’s hopes, Wallace has his reservations about David Teague’s side and if they have the quality to win enough games from their remaining six to secure a first finals berth since 2013.
“I think they’ll fall short,” he said further.
“I think they’re still 12 months away from taking that step. They’ve had six games where they’ve been within seven points.
“In fairness to Carlton supporters as well – you’ve got (Port Adelaide’s) Robbie Gray after the siren against you, you got one back after the siren this week – but you’ve won four of them and lost two. So you’ve actually finished on the better side of the ledger in those games.
“I just can’t see them being able to bank enough wins in this back half. They’ve got to win (tonight). I don’t think it’s going to be an easy game for them whatsoever.
“Just off the back of that win last week, the travel, and meeting somebody who needs to prove a point as well, I think it becomes a really critical game.”
The Blues currently occupy 12th position on the ladder with a record of 5-6 while the Suns sit one spot below and two points in arrears as they prepare to meet in a must-win affair.