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“It was a set play”: Blues ruckman spills the tea on game-breaking ploy used against Dockers


Carlton ruckman Tom De Koning has revealed all on the set play that had a large impact on Carlton’s come-from-behind win over Fremantle.

The Blues were down for much of the second half against Justin Longmuir’s Dockers but kept their win streak going with two late goals, both in controversial fashion, in the last minute.

With 1:31 on the clock and the ball in Carlton’s forward 50 for a ball-up, Patrick Cripps nominated to take the ruck contest against Fremantle’s Luke Jackson, with De Koning standing idly by.

It was a ploy that seemed to distract Jackson, who – instead of keeping the ball in tight, as would be the norm in the dying seconds for a winning team – belted the footy away from the contest. It was then swopped on by the Blues, who got it to Matt Cottrell for a mark 30 metres out, directly in front.

De Koning has now admitted it was a deliberate act the Blues have wheeled out on several occasions so far this year.

“Yeah, it was,” De Koning replied when asked if it was a set play on SEN's Dwayne's World.

“We were obviously in a scenario there when we’re trying to win the game in the dying seconds and it’s just a little strategy we have just to catch the opposition off guard a little bit.

“It seemed to work in the moment, Jackson did win the hitout but I think there was a little bit of confusion there which we tried to bring and it ended up paying off for us, which is good.”

“We don’t just do it in the dying seconds, I’ve been doing it a little this year. Whether it be Crippa, Matty Kennedy, Harry McKay taking the ruck, we find that it sometimes catches the opposition off guard a little bit and it can work in our favour a bit, especially in the chaos that can be a forward 50 stoppage.

“It makes it easier for us to score we think and it just confuses them a little bit because I might be sitting in a different spot and they might not know I’m sitting there or might not know Crippa has nominated.

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“Things like that just catch you off guard a bit and work in our favour.”

De Koning added: “It just forces the opposition to be more alert and if they’re not… things like free kicks or them not recognizing who is in the ruck, that can pop up and we have an opportunity to score.”

Michael Voss was also asked about the situation on SEN and gave far less away.

“We just try to be a little bit creative with it,” was as far as the senior coach was willing to go.

The Blues ultimately won by 10 points, with De Koning picking up 16 disposal and 32 hitouts. McKay, Cripps and Kennedy all finished with at least one hitout to their name.

AFL Nation commentator Dwayne Russell said he’s seen the trend originate over the opening month of 2024.

“We watch enough footy to know Carlton has this set play going on where someone else is going to nominate to confuse (the opposition)… it’s a ploy to get a free kick normally but Carlton is using it to confuse everyone and get a mismatch,” he said.

Carlton is one of three undefeated teams remaining after Round 4 and next host Adelaide at Marvel Stadium on Saturday.


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