THE AFL is littered with examples of ruckmen who flourished after switching clubs.

Shane Mumford, Sam Jacobs, Darren Jolly, Stefan Martin and Toby Nankervis – just to name a few – all moved teams in search of greater opportunity before becoming genuine No.1 big men.

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Marc Pittonet's rise from third-string Hawk to leading Carlton's ruck division, if at this stage only in Matthew Kreuzer's absence, is testament to his willingness to change environments.

After a baptism of fire against triple All-Australian Max Gawn in round two, Pittonet rallied to hold his head high and play an integral role in the Blues' fightback.

Then last week against Geelong's Rhys Stanley, who was fresh from thrashing Hawthorn's Jon Ceglar, the rough-and-ready Pittonet (pronounced Pitt-o-net) was even better.

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 The 24-year-old's two-game numbers in navy blue make for impressive reading.  

PITTONET AS A BLUE

STATISTIC

AVERAGE

RUCK RANK

Hitouts to advantage

12.5

1st

Disposals

11.5

12th

Contested possessions

8

5th

Groundball gets

4.5

5th

Intercept marks

2

5th

Stoppage clearances

3

4th

Pressure acts

13

2nd

AFL Player Rating Points

15.4

2nd

 

It's no wonder Carlton coach David Teague said the ruck spot was Pittonet's to lose, although Kreuzer (foot) is out for another two months, anyway.

"You look at the age profile of ruckmen and I don't think they, from a numbers point of view, hit their peak until 27, so hopefully he's got a lot of football ahead of him," Teague said of Pittonet.

"The ruckman gets the first opportunity to compete and that's what 'Pitto' does. He competes, then he follows up, he puts pressure and he got involved around the ground.

"But what we want from him is a big physical presence, and he delivered that (on Saturday night)."

Carlton's Marc Pittonet does battle with Geelong's Rhys Stanley at GMHBA Stadium. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

It's believed Pittonet could have accepted a two-year deal at Hawthorn but preferred to take a calculated risk elsewhere for the same number of seasons.

Brisbane's interest in Ceglar provided a sliding doors moment for three footballers.

Hawthorn convinced Ceglar to stay and eventually locked him in for three years and, in doing so, redeployed Ben McEvoy as a key defender to ensure the former could play every week.

That decision effectively meant Pittonet's five-season, seven-game stint at Waverley Park was over, especially with another developing ruckman, Ned Reeves, coming through as well.

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The feeling in the Pittonet camp was if Ceglar was to miss games this year and beyond, the Hawks would swing the durable McEvoy back into the ruck before promoting Pittonet.

Those who know the 202cm giant best will tell you he isn't content to be a career back-up, so those circumstances were never likely to appeal after years of strong VFL performances.

Pittonet was one of a wide array of ruckmen who spoke to Greater Western Sydney but the Giants preferred ex-Crow and Blue Jacobs. It may be a different call now.

Essendon was another potential landing point, yet it was the Blues' situation that felt most right. 

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Kreuzer, at 31, is nearing the end of a good career and has played at least 20 matches in a season only five times since being the No.1 draft pick in 2007.

The other main contender to the crown is 20-year-old Tom De Koning, a nice prospect at 203cm who can also be impactful in attack but is in just his third season. 

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Pittonet's upside and good character appealed to Carlton, too.

Ex-Collingwood ruckman Josh Fraser, who may have coached Pittonet this season at the Northern Blues before the VFL affiliate's demise, was left impressed from their short time together.

The two of them worked closely on Pittonet's marking, one area he was keen to improve upon.

Former Northern Blues coach Josh Fraser addresses his team in 2019. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

"He has a great ability to implement his ruck craft against different opponents but his biggest asset is the combative nature of the way he plays," Fraser told AFL.com.au.

"He's a big, strong, aggressive ruckman, and the thing with 'Pitto' is if he's not winning hitouts or getting the ball in the vicinity of the Carlton midfielders, he's certainly creating a contest where it's very much a neutral ball.

"The mids really enjoy and love working with him and appreciate the way he goes about it."