Sydney forward George Hewett was “stoked” to play one game of AFL football and on Sunday will notch up his 50th.
The 22-year-old will reach a half-century of games when the Swans face the Port Adelaide Power at the SCG and he has been ultra-consistent in his road to the milestone match.
Hewett has played 49 of a possible 51 games since making his senior debut and credits his consistency to a strong commitment to training.
“When I first got here I was a bit raw with my fitness and strength,” Hewett said.
“I just had to work on my weaknesses and keep working on my craft and keep building on that. The good thing about football is you keep trying to evolve and see where it takes you.
“You’re always on your toes when you’re at training. You’re competing with 40-odd other blokes out on the training track.”
The Swans secured Hewett in the second round of the 2013 National Draft, with pick 32.
He hailed from the North Adelaide Roosters in the South Australian National Football League and at 17-years-old was the youngest player taken in the Draft.
But the Prince Alfred College junior had recently impressed for South Australia in the Under 18 Championships, showing neat skills off his left and right boots and a sound ability to read the play.
He banked two seasons in the NEAFL across 2014 and 2015 and made his AFL debut in Round 1, 2016 as Sydney overcame Collingwood in an 80-point win at the SCG.
The pick of his road to 50 was arguably saved for Sydney’s Round 8 win over North Melbourne last season, in which he collected 29 disposals and a goal as the Swans ran out 42-point victors.
But it was just one of a number of glowing performances in a season he finished fifth in the Club Champion Award and claimed the Dennis Carrol Award for most improved.
Swans coach John Longmire said Hewett flies under the radar at AFL level.
“He’s underrated but is highly valued inside the footy club,” Longmire said.
“He’s hard, he’s a quality AFL midfielder, he’s quite big for an AFL midfielder, so he’s able to get in and use his size to advantage, and he’s a very efficient and effective forward.
“He had a few shots at goal on the weekend and if he had kicked straight he probably could have come home with three goals. He’s good overhead and he was good on the weekend.
“Since he came into the team he’s pretty much stayed there. You need him to play consistent footy and he delivers every week.”
Longmire said the strength of the NEAFL program has played a major hand in Hewett’s rise.
“There aren’t many players who come in and make big impacts straight away,” Longmire said.
“A two-year apprenticeship is not long. It’s pretty short when you look over the history of football, but he was able to hone his craft and be able to get to the stage where he could play consistent football at senior level.
“He was able to deliver that week in and week out at reserves level which meant he was better prepared at senior level. The NEAFL certainly has prepared him to play regular senior footy.”