You could argue that George Hewett epitomises the ‘Bloods’ culture as well as any current Swan.
He’s a role-player, unassuming and underrated but that’s seeling him short. Truth is the 22-year-old Swan has the attributes to go toe-to-toe with opposition’s best player while getting the ball himself.
It’s a different role than what he’s used to. Hewett is rated so highly at the Swans he finished fifth in their best and fairest award last year, ahead of the likes of Heath Grundy, Dan Hannebery and Isaac Heeney.
Yet he could easily walk down a street in Melbourne, Adelaide or Perth and not get noticed, let alone in the NRL-laden Sydney.
But despite his successes as the club’s resident run-with player, the North Adelaide product is far from comfortable and it’s a mindset that’s clearly working.
“I’ve never cemented my spot in the side,” Hewett told AFLPlayers.com.au.
“I’m just trying to take it week-by-week because I never feel like my spot is secure in a team like the Swans.”
It’s been natural progression for Hewett, who spent his debut season playing as a forward before gradually moving into the midfield.
He has tackled the likes of Patrick Cripps, Dayne Zorko, Nat Fyfe and Tom Mitchell in recent weeks, keeping Cripps and Mitchell to 17 and 20 touches respectively.
When it comes to preparing for the opposition’s best player, Hewett likes to keep it simple.
“I only watch a few certain clips of what they do well and maybe talk through it the day before because if you watch too much, it doesn’t help your confidence,” Hewett added.
“They’re obviously going to get the ball because they are such great players. Really, all you can do really is prevent that as much as you can. It comes down to is who wants to win the 50/50 ball more.
“If you look at it like you’re playing against the best player in each side each week, you’ll beat yourself before you get onto the field.
“It’s an opportunity to test yourself against those blokes. I get nervous – I can’t lie about that – but it’s just an opportunity to beat another player.”
It’s already been a whirlwind journey for Hewett, who moved from country South Australia to Sydney as an 18-year-old.
After a steady two-year apprenticeship in the reserves, Hewett showed enough in the pre-season competition to warrant a Round 1 debut in 2016. The result has been 59 of a possible 61 matches, remarkable durability for a young man.
Hewett credits the timing of his debut – it was just after Rhys Shaw, Adam Goodes and Mike Pyke retired – the fact the Swans have been regularly on the winners list and a bit of luck for his run of games.
Originally from Port Broughton, two hours north of Adelaide, Hewett grew up on a farm alongside three brothers. One’s currently on Port Adelaide’s rookie list, one’s a PE teacher and the other a boilermaker who’s overseas at the moment.
Adjusting to life in Sydney might prove a challenge for most teenagers who grew up in the country but Hewett spent his latter high school years boarding in Adelaide, which he believes went a long way in helping him becoming independent.
But that doesn’t mean uprooting his life in search of his dream didn’t present its own unique challenges.
“The biggest one was driving around Sydney and dealing with the little things that come with that,” Hewett joked.
“Back home, you can park wherever and that’s the case in Adelaide as well, whereas in Sydney you have to fight for a park even at your own house.
“But there are so many positives that come with it, like the beaches and not being an AFL-dominant city. It’s a nice place to live.”
Hewett has settled in Maroubra and lives with Lewis Melican, another country boy.
In that regard, the pair might be the two least Sydney-like people living in the city’s eastern suburbs. While he might not identify with the Sydney stereotype, Hewett fits in seamlessly as a Swan.