Tom De Koning celebrates a goal during Carlton's clash against Greater Western Sydney in round six, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

THE MILLION-dollar ruck club is set to welcome a new member.

After knocking back significant interest from Geelong, Sydney and St Kilda last year, Carlton big man Tom De Koning backed himself in with a two-year deal through to free agency. He had more millions and more years on the table from rivals but was confident by the end of 2025 he would be maximising his value. It looks an inspired decision now.

De Koning's form just keeps reaching a new level. Champion Data has had De Koning as the No.1 rated player on the ground in his past three matches for the Blues – making him the 29th player ever to complete that three-game streak and just the second ever ruckman after Fremantle's Sean Darcy last achieved it from round 16-18 in 2021.

His 35.5 AFL Player Ratings points last week against Geelong, where he was matched up on younger brother Sam, was the second highest rated game by a ruckman on record and his 36 clearances over the past four games is the second most for a ruck in Champion Data's recording history (Western Bulldogs great Luke Darcy had 41 from round six to nine in 2002). Interestingly, Sam De Koning was the No.2 rated player on the ground, making it just the second time two brothers have been rated as the two best on the ground (Nick and Josh Daicos did it in round 18 last year). 

De Koning's 64 contested possessions over the past four matches is the eighth most by a ruckman on record but only the third most by a ruck this season, with Swans star Brodie Grundy having 70 over his past four games. 

The 24-year-old's emergence as one of the competition's best ruckmen continued what described earlier this month as the new wave of big men dominating around the ground as well as in the air. 


It is a form line that was kickstarted in last year's finals series which saw De Koning's stardom build, on top of some Robbie Williams pop song assistance. 

The next phase comes in the contract. Carlton will be keen to get the deal done as soon as possible and as a free agent De Koning will command long-term offers and big-money deals. 

Million-dollar ruckmen are few and far between in football, with West Coast's Nic Naitanui and Collingwood then Melbourne and now Sydney's Grundy also in the club. But De Koning's ascent and the changing nature of the ruck role will give him power to join the rare group even as the Blues try to lock him down before he reaches his free agency season.

Carlton's big five have always been central to its flag aspirations – the midfield duo of Patrick Cripps and Sam Walsh, forward pair Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay and defender Jacob Weitering. Weitering, too, enters a free agency year next year and will be commanding seven-figure sums, as will Walsh the following season in 2026 as a restricted free agent. 


De Koning's arrival as the sixth member of the band has given Carlton its newest weapon and will also implore rivals to bring out the chequebook again.

He is the latest cog in a Carlton machine that is humming at the moment, with Michael Voss' side overlapping high scores with high pressure.

Champion Data showed there has been just 10 sides since 2013 who have scored at least 135 points in a game while also recording a pressure rating of over 200, like the Blues did against Geelong last week. Three of these have been Carlton in the 13 months – round seven, 2023, round three this year and last week.