Sport

Young Swan ready to put body on the line

Sydney Swans player George Hewett looks for a teammate.
Sydney Swans player George Hewett looks for a teammate. JULIAN SMITH

GEORGE Hewett's courage and commitment was never more evident than during his school team's grand final in 2011.

Representing Adelaide's Prince Alfred College against arch-rival St Peter's College, the then 16-year-old played through the pain of an injury suffered early in the clash.

That injury was described by Hewett as "only a little broken wrist”, and wasn't going to stop him being out there for his mates until the final siren.

"We hadn't beaten them all year,” Hewett recalled to Australian Regional Media. "(But) we were lucky enough to beat them by a point in that grand final.”

Tailor-made for the Sydney Swans, who love players that can tough it out in any situation, Hewett will tomorrow night again look to put his body on the line in search of victory in a final, albeit a slightly bigger one.

The 20-year-old will play just his 23rd game tomorrow night at the MCG, when the side is hosted by Geelong with the chance to progress to next week's premiership decider.

Once described as the "runt” of the Hewett litter - the third among four boys who grew up on the family farm just outside of Port Broughton, about 170km north-west of Adelaide - he learnt to scrap early on.

Whatever sport the brothers would play together after school, he said "there was some sort of fight by the end of it”.

"We never liked to lose to each other,” he said. "We all had a bit of competitive spirit in us, which helps now I think.”

Selected at pick No.32 in the 2013 national draft, Hewett was forced to do a long apprenticeship in NEAFL before becoming the first of seven Sydney debutants this season when he was named for the season opener.

"I was never confident I was going to get an opportunity. I don't think anyone is until they get one,” he said.

"I wasn't playing outstanding footy, but just playing good consistent footy.

"When I got my opportunity, I just knew I couldn't waste it. You're pretty limited here at the Swans, the side's pretty mature.”

After starting out as a midfielder, Hewett has developed into a half-forward who can win the hard ball or provide that tackling pressure.

While that competitiveness came naturally, he has harnessed it working closely with Swans star Josh Kennedy.

"He's been my mentor for the three years I've been there,” Hewett said.

"When you know you've got the top midfielders in the competition, you just sort of see what they do and implement it yourself as best you can.”

Playing in the same attack, Hewett's also got the benefit of watching how the great Lance Franklin goes about it from close range, alongside fellow youngsters Isaac Heeney and Tom Papley, who kicked four goals in the semi-final win over Adelaide.

"(Franklin's) a good leader, which I think he doesn't get much accolades for. Especially for us young guys, he's been massive,” Hewett said.

While the Cats will be slight favourites tomorrow night, you can never underestimate a Swans side that always possesses a finals-like intensity - and one that is being passed down to the likes of Hewett.

"We're pretty lucky with the leaders we've got,” he said. "They've been there and done it a few times. I know us young guys feel confident running out there with them.

"It will be a tough game obviously, we'll just have to do our best to control what we can control.”

Topics:  afl finals, george hewett, sydney swans


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