AFL fans and viewers were shocked by “horrible scenes” at the end of Carlton’s clash with GWS on Saturday night, with Blues ruckman Tom De Koning struggling to make his way off the field after being concussed.
In the dying minutes of the game at Marvel Stadium, De Koning took a spectacular mark over the top of Giants star Toby Greene, before landing heavily on the turf.
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De Koning’s head slammed into the ground and his knee hit his chin hard, leaving the Blues youngster concussed as he lay motionless for a few moments.
“It’s a sickening hit,” North Melbourne great David King told Fox Footy.
“That’ll hurt. He might not get up from that,” five-time Hawthorn premiership player Dermott Brereton added.
“He landed really heavily. They’re turning away in a little bit of shock here the boys.
“Fingers crossed. He’s moving his legs, which is fantastic.
“He’s even kneed himself in the face. He might have done something to his cheek.
“He gets the double whammy — his head hits the ground and he’s such a long young man that the left knee hits himself in the cheek.
“I reckon he might have a little fracture somewhere up around the left hand cheek area.”
Play was immediately stopped and Carlton’s trainers quickly came to De Koning’s aid, but he was initially determined to stand up and walk off the field by himself without assistance.
In confronting scenes, he stood up and took a few steps before swaying and collapsing to the ground again.
The trainers then decided to put him on a stretcher, before he was taken off the field on a medicab.
“That’s horrible scenes,” King said of De Koning collapsing after attempting to walk himself off the field.
“You hate seeing that. The stretcher’s out there, let’s just put him on it.”
Viewers were very concerned by the “distressing” vision of the Blues youngster stumbling and questioned the decision not to put him on a stretcher straight away.
“He did get up under his own speed,” Brereton said.
“He did collapse again but at least he’s holding his own head, he’s got his wits about him so the lights are not out.
“That’s a positive, he’s chatting with the doctor there.”
De Koning was praised for his efforts during the game, with Brereton describing his mark as a “fantastic grab”.
“He had a terrific night. It’s a shame to see his season finish like this,” King added.
After Carlton made a strong start, GWS mounted a comeback in the second and third quarters and claimed a 89 (12. 17) to 75 (11.9) win.
The 14-point victory was vital in securing a spot in the top eight for the Giants, who will likely take on the Sydney Swans in the first week of the finals.