EMERGING Geelong defender Sam De Koning is the NAB AFL Rising Star nominee for round 11.
Snapped up by the Cats with pick 19 in the 2019 NAB AFL Draft from the Dandenong Stingrays, De Koning caught the eye of recruiters with his high-marking prowess and his outstanding ability to read the ball in flight.
The athletically gifted De Koning shone for Vic Country in his draft year, averaging 12.5 disposals and 4.8 marks, to earn himself All-Australian honours.
The 204cm defender made his debut in round five, 2021 against North Melbourne, but it was his first and only game that season.
But in season 2022, De Koning hasn’t missed a beat. Following the retirement of Lachie Henderson at the end of last year, the exciting prospect has been a mainstay of the Cats’ defence playing in 10 of a possible 11 games, only missing due to concussion protocols.
De Koning played arguably the best game of his short career in the Cats' comfortable 42-point round 11 win over Adelaide.
The 21-year-old’s ability to read the ball through the air saw him finish with 19 disposals and nine marks, to go with 11 intercept possessions.
Often playing on the opposition's best key forward, he has averaged 12.9 disposals, 7.1 intercept possessions and 1.9 contested marks per game.
Two weeks ago, De Koning went head-to-head with St Kilda spearhead Max King and kept him to two goals, a contest which resulted in Geelong coach Chris Scott likening the battle to the great Carey v Jakovich match-up.
Such praise has seen the young gun become a vital member of Geelong’s defensive structure, which has conceded the fifth least points this season.
De Koning is one of 10 children – his older brother Tom currently plays for Carlton, while his father Terry played 31 games for Footscray.