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Hewett’s learning curve

Swans Media - Tanya Paolucci  August 27, 2014 4:36 PM

SwansTV: Hewett at home in Sydney: Beyond the Boundary George Hewett opens up about his first season at the club in this edition of Beyond the Boundary powered by Volkswagen
George Hewett in action for the Swans reserves earlier this year

George Hewett in action for the Swans reserves earlier this year

From country South Australia to the Sydney Swans, the last 10 months have been a massive learning curve for first-year player, George Hewett.

Taken by the Swans as a second-round selection at pick 32, Hewett was the youngest player in last year’s AFL Draft, with the then 17-year-old born on December 29, 1996, just two days shy off the cut-off age.

The teenager, who spent his last three years of school boarding at Adelaide’s Prince Alfred College, said that he felt he had been “thrown in the deep end” when he arrived in Sydney late last year.

“Obviously I came here in November and I was the youngest kid in the draft, so I guess it was a bit daunting, especially moving away from home," Hewett told SwansTV’s Beyond the Boundary, powered by Volkswagen.

“When I first came up here, I guess you sort of get thrown in the deep end, but I think you’re better off doing that because it means you learn a lot.

“It was a bit daunting and when you see all the big name players like Buddy Franklin and you’re training with them, it was a bit different and a bit confronting.”

As is the norm for young players, Hewett was introduced to Player Welfare and Development Manager, Dennis Carroll on his arrival at the Swans, and the pair quickly struck up a close relationship.

Carroll said Hewett’s recruitment to the Swans meant big changes for the teenager.

“I shouldn’t say that Georgie reminded me of a baby, because he certainly wasn’t a baby, but he was very much a teenager developing into a young man,” he said.

“When he arrived here, he was clearly the youngest by some months with his birth date on December.

“Coming from country Adelaide and coming from a farm to the big smoke in Sydney and to the Sydney Swans was a massive, massive transition for him.

“For that reason, George was someone I kept an eye on and kept particularly close with and spoke to a lot, and just made sure he was feeling comfortable.”

George Hewett at Monday's recovery session with senior players Jarrad McVeigh, Luke Parker, Dan Hannebery and Tom Mitchell

It wasn’t an entirely comfortable start for Hewett, with the young midfielder required to undergo knee surgery in just his first month at the club.

While his fellow draftees were taking part in team sessions, Hewett admitted he did feel as though he was on the outer as he recovered from surgery.

“In my second week I had to have an operation on my knee, so I was out of action and couldn’t run for about two months,” he said.

“It was a slow start and I did feel out of it not training with the main group and not doing the pre-season so I felt a bit behind.”

But there was an upside for the teenager, who just weeks later joined a star-studded rehab group which boasted the likes of Adam Goodes, Rhyce Shaw, Mike Pyke and Lewis Roberts-Thomson.

Carroll said he could still recall Hewett’s excitement when he realised he’d be spending so much time with some of his football idols.

“His knee operation meant that he was in the rehab group during the pre-season, which meant he spent a lot of time with … these senior premiership players,” Carroll said.

“George came in to see me one day and I asked him how he was going and I asked how his rehab was going.

“He told me he was with Lewie and Goodesy and Pykey and he said “You know what? I’m actually going to lunch with them twice a week!”

“He said he was just sitting there talking to premiership players, who were his idols, so that was a real positive out of his pre-season.”

The positives have kept on coming for Hewett, who has worked his way into some good form on-field, which has seen him named as a senior emergency on a handful of occasions this season.

The 18-year-old has also regularly been named among the best afield for the Swans reserves this season, including the side’s most recent victory over the Sydney Hills Eagles where he picked up 39 possessions and 12 clearances.

After a difficult start to his career at an AFL club, Hewett said he felt things were now falling into place.

“I’m now really enjoying every minute and I’m learning a lot,” he said.

“A lot of the coaches have been very good to me, especially the development staff in Josh Francou, Jared Crouch and Nick Davis.

“Also, being able to look at guys like Josh Kennedy, who is my mentor, and Dan Hannebery, and seeing how they prepare, it’s just really good for my football, I think.

“Josh (Kennedy) has told me to keep things simple and not to take anything to heart and he’s obviously one of the best midfielders in the AFL, so I’m pretty lucky to have him as a mentor.”

Carroll said the changes in Hewett over the last few months have been dramatic, with the skinny kid who arrived with braces on his teeth a distant memory to the young man he’s now become.

“It was nice to watch George develop, and he developed so quickly,” he said.

“You only need to tell George once and he understands quickly and acts quickly.

“You look at him today, and his football really has progressed.

“He’s got a bright future and we see him as a long-term player.”