MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 21: Marc Pittonet of the Blues and Darcy Cameron of the Magpies contest the ruck during the round 23 AFL match between the Carlton Blues and the Collingwood Magpies at Melbourne Cricket Ground on August 21, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

That can be said of Marc Pittonet's presence as the AFL's most efficient ruckman across the competition's early rounds.

After seven weeks of the 2023 season, the Blues' 202cm serviceman ranks No.1 for his rate of hit-outs to advantage among the league's most relied-upon rucks - a crown he wore in the early rounds of last season as well.

Pittonet managed 42 hit-outs to advantage from his opening 199 ruck contests last year for a rating of 21.11%. While he hasn't managed to surpass that rating so far in 2023, he has held his place at the summit.

Among all 21 ruckmen that have taken part in at least 200 ruck contests so far in 2023, Pittonet is a standout as the most efficient, with 19.38% of his 289 ruck contests going to the advantage of his teammates.

That percentage is 2.67% greater than the next most efficient ruckman in the competition in Hawthorn's Ned Reeves, whose hit-out to advantage rating sits at 16.71%. Reeves also featured among the top five in last year's ratings to start the season at 14.78%.

Having trailed Pittonet in the No.2 spot last year after the opening rounds of the season, North Melbourne veteran Todd Goldstein finds himself still on the podium with a rating of 16.30%, while Fremantle's Sean Darcy (16.03) and Melbourne recruit Brodie Grundy (15.93%) round out the top five.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 25: Marc Pittonet of Carlton and Todd Goldstein of North Melbourne challenge for the ball during the round 8 AFL match between the North Melbourne Kangaroos and the Carlton Blues at The Gabba on July 25, 2020 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Pittonet's ruck partner Tom De Koning has struggled to find the same level of efficiency as his more senior teammate, rating at just 10.21% to be 18th out of the 21 ranked ruckmen.

Only Sydney's Peter Ladhams (8.30%), Port Adelaide's Scott Lycett (8.59%) and Eagle Bailey J. Williams (9.40%) rate lower than De Koning following the first seven rounds.

Williams' low ratings comes as the emerging West Coast tall ranks third in the AFL so far this season for total ruck contests attended, only behind Bulldog Tim English and Crow Reilly O'Brien.

O'Brien has managed to hold up a strong rating (14.31%) despite the heavy workload, while English's numbers are less flattering (12.33%).

A trio of prominent ruckmen that are yet to surpass the 200 ruck contests benchmark include Darcy CameronMax Gawn and Luke Jackson, with the latter being the most efficient of the three.

Jackson's numbers so far this year are good for 17.09%, ahead of Gawn (16.22%) and Cameron (16.02%), with the new Fremantle star recording 27 hit-outs to advantage from his 158 ruck contests.

Gawn held the second-highest rating at the conclusion of the 2022 season at 17.78, trailing only GWS tall Braydon Preuss' efficiency rating of 20.72% among the most used ruckmen.

2023 AFL ruck efficiency ratings after seven rounds

Rank Player Total Ruck Contests (RC) Total Hit-Outs Hit-Out Win % Hit-Outs to Advantage (HTA) Hit-Outs to Advantage % HTA per RC (%)
1 Marc Pittonet 289 135 46.7 56 41.5 19.38
2 Ned Reeves 389 205 52.7 65 31.7 16.71
3 Todd Goldstein 405 174 43 66 37.9 16.30
4 Sean Darcy 499 296 59.3 80 27 16.03
5 Brodie Grundy 364 180 49.5 58 32.2 15.93
6 Matthew Flynn 436 204 46.8 68 33.3 15.60
7 Jarrod Witts 369 178 48.2 55 30.9 14.91
8 Reilly O'Brien 503 253 50.3 72 28.5 14.31
9 Toby Nankervis 294 148 50.3 41 27.7 13.95
10 Andrew Phillips 201 108 53.7 28 25.9 13.93
11 Oscar McInerney 475 219 46.1 59 26.9 12.42
12 Tim English 519 193 37.2 64 33.2 12.33
13 Rowan Marshall 422 176 41.7 52 29.5 12.32
14 Mark Blicavs 241 92 38.2 29 31.5 12.03
15 Sam Draper 371 154 41.5 44 28.6 11.86
16 Rhys Stanley 224 98 43.8 26 26.5 11.61
17 Billy Frampton 210 87 41.4 22 25.3 10.48
18 Tom De Koning 235 91 38.7 24 26.4 10.21
19 Bailey J. Williams 500 175 35 47 26.9 9.40
20 Scott Lycett 291 107 36.8 25 23.4 8.59
21 Peter Ladhams 446 166 37.2 37 22.3 8.30

Top 21 ruckman ranked for HTA per RC% (min. 200 ruck contests attended)