“We will make no apologies”: Scott explains decision behind Cats’ ruck call

“We’re so optimistic about the player he can be.”

Geelong coach Chris Scott has explained the decision to use tall defender Sam De Koning as the club’s leading ruck option on Friday night, with the premiership backman going head-to-head with older brother Tom in the contest.

Scott chose De Koning and Mark Blicavs as his ruck options for the Blues game, which ended in a 63-point victory for Carlton.

Tom De Koning was the best player on the pitch, dominating his younger brother who was playing out of position from the start.

The Blues big man had 15 contested possessions to half-time and ended the night with a game-high 34 hitouts to his brother’s 20. Tom also booted a goal after out-muscling his sibling in a ruck contest before slotting an impressive major.

Scott’s decision to use Sam De Koning in the ruck instead of Blicavs, Stanley, or Conway raised some questions in his post-match media conference.

“Sam is probably an example of our need to be a little bit creative,” Scott said.

“We’re so optimistic about the player he can be. In my mind, he’s been one of the really high-level players in the competition. But like us, he’s just not there at the moment.


“Getting him up around the ball a bit more might get him a spark that he and we needed. This is an aggressive move, and not one without risk.

“I don’t think we’ll be thinking it was the fact we didn’t have our tall defenders back there (in defence) that cost us the game.” “Sam is a developing player and one we’re going to invest in. We’ll make no apologies for prioritising him.” Scott denied the timing of the selection manoeuvre was “coincidental” given De Koning would be matched up with his brother, who has been one of the form players of the competition over the past month.

The Cats coach admitted he knew Sam would face a difficult task given his brother’s full-time role as a ruckman, but he was “pleased” with some glimpses the defender had in the middle of the pitch. “[The matchup was] coincidental,” Scott remarked.

“I am not a big believer in that things. I’m not denying that there’s some good theatre in it. I think what’s more relevant is you’ve got a guy who’s a few years older and played a lot more in the ruck.

A neutral observer would think [Tom] is better placed to win that position than the guy that hasn’t played much in the ruck.

“Again, it’s an investment in our future, as well as in Sam. We need him to get up and play his best football. We decided the move was the greatest way to help with that.

“At his best he’s a super key defender. If he becomes one of the really good players in the competition, I don’t think it needs to be as a Jacob Weitering-style of player. I think he’s going to be a little bit different to that.


“I used to think it was rare having a 204cm key position player, but there’s a few of them out there now. One of his strengths is his ground-level stuff.


“We were pleased with some of the signs we saw from him tonight against a really dominant team.”

Stanley has been named to face Port Melbourne in the VFL on Sunday, alongside Conway and young tall Shannon Neale. The team also includes mature-aged recruits Shaun Mannagh and Mitch Hardie, who is a standout in the VFL but has yet to make his AFL debut.

Alongside Mannagh and Lawson Humphries, Hardie could be rewarded with a call-up as the Cats consider changes to their side, however Scott is wary of striking the right balance between blooding new talent and remaining in the premiership race.

“We’ve been talking about it. There might be a few things on the horizon,” Scott added.

“We’re looking to push some players in, but without completely losing our composure around what we can be as well.

“You don’t sit back at this stage of the season at 8-6 and think ‘oh well, now we’re rebuilding’. Haven’t done that for 14 years and we’re not going to start now.”

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