Thomson Dow and Sam De Koning were able to gain an insight into life at the elite level from their AFL-listed siblings prior to being selected in November’s NAB AFL Draft.
Former Bendigo Pioneers midfielder Dow – the brother of 20-year-old Carlton rising star Paddy Dow – was taken by Richmond with pick no.21 in the draft, while ex-Dandenong Stingrays key-position player De Koning – brother of 20-year-old Blues tall Tom De Koning – went to Geelong with pick no.19.
184cm Dow averaged 19 disposals, four marks and one goal per game in five NAB League matches in 2019, in addition to representing Vic Country at the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships.
The Swan Hill (Central Murray FNL) product impressed this year with his explosiveness from congestion and composed decision-making with ball in hand – traits he seems to have in common with his sibling, who has made 39 AFL appearances since being picked at no.3 in the 2017 AFL Draft.
— Richmond FC 🐯🏆 (@Richmond_FC) November 27, 2019
“The way we play is definitely similar, but there are a lot of differences as well,” Dow said in reference to his brother. “He’s a very solid contested player and he’s probably got me in that area, but I feel like I can be more damaging on the outside as well as having that balance (with contested play).
“Having Paddy already at a club, I’ve got a bit of an insight into what AFL life is like. It definitely gives me a bit of a hand.
“(His pre-draft advice was) just to relax more than anything, and just to enjoy it because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Bendigo Talent Manager Stephen Sharp said the premiership-winning Tigers could afford to develop Dow over time in a way that a poorer-placed Carlton outfit hasn’t had the luxury of doing with his sibling.
“The way Thomson moves the ball on really quickly suits the Richmond way of playing,” Sharp said. “That seems to be the way they like to move the ball, particularly around the contest.
“Unlike Paddy who went to Carlton when they were down the ladder (finishing 16th in 2017), I reckon Thomson will be given time to develop at the Tigers.”
Dow said having the opportunity to train and potentially play with Richmond on-ball superstars such as Dustin Martin and Trent Cotchin is “unreal”.
2019 AFL Under-18 All Australian full-back De Koning, meanwhile, will have access to defensive tutelage from the likes of Harry Taylor and Mark Blicavs at the Cats.
— Geelong Cats (@GeelongCats) November 28, 2019
The Mornington (AFL South East) junior announced himself as a mobile 201cm defender this season, starring for Vic Country and winning NAB League Boys Team of the Year selection after averaging 10 disposals and three marks per game in 11 matches for the Stingrays.
However, De Koning can also play as a key forward or ruck – the primary positions of brother Tom, who went to the Blues with pick no.30 in the 2017 draft and has since played two AFL games.
“I started the year off fairly inconsistently but just working on my back-line craft, and then I really honed in on that during the Championships,” De Koning said.
“I thought I also worked on my forward and ruck craft and definitely made myself a more well-rounded player, which I can take through to (Geelong).
“I think there was a date of age when my dad (ex-Western Bulldogs 31-gamer Terry De Koning) played his first senior game and I think my brother played (in his debut match) when he was one day younger than my dad was. I’ll have to work out what day that is and see when I have to beat them, but there’s no rush at this point.”
Dandenong Talent Manager Darren Flanigan said that in time the Cats should benefit from De Koning’s versatility.
“Sam is very under-developed, physically… (but) he’s a beautiful kick of the footy and a really good intercept-mark,” Flanigan said.
“I think Geelong have picked him primarily as a key defender but also as a back-up ruck, because his ruck craft is quite solid. We threw him forward at times too, and he presents at the ball well because he has good speed and good hands.”