AFTER six rounds in his first Carlton season of 2022, in a year where Patrick Cripps burst out of the blocks and won the Brownlow Medal, George Hewett led the John Nicholls Medal count.  

With six games to go that season, Hewett was still very much in with a shot of being crowned as club champion, tied on 122 votes with Coleman Medallist Charlie Curnow — and just 15 behind eventual winner Cripps and runner-up Sam Docherty.

In the 2024 incarnation of the award, after five games, there’s every chance that Hewett is featuring just as much in the calculations as he was two years ago.

It’s easy to forget the impact Hewett had on Carlton immediately upon his arrival. Targeted by the Club’s list management team to bolster the Blues’ midfield mix under new coach Michael Voss, Hewett - alongside fellow recruit Adam Cerra - immediately did what was asked of him.


They added another edge to Carlton’s on-ball brigade, helping shift the needle towards a midfield mix that was all about being hard and fair at the ball and opponent in equal measure. Hewett was delivering that in abundance — before a back injury quickly derailed his outstanding start to life in Navy Blue.

His second year was a bit more tricky. While the record will show that Hewett played 22 games, it was hard work. After off-season back surgery between 2022 and 2023, Hewett - who was a model of consistency in his first season - had a form line which was a bit more up and down.

Between returning to fitness from his back injury, missing games due to a hand injury and later a concussion, plus with the team negotiating form struggles, Hewett didn’t play a full game from Round 10 to Round 18, either out injured or as sub. 

But with a full pre-season under his belt this time around, Hewett has once again flourished to be one of Carlton’s key instigators out of the middle.

So often the role played by Ed Curnow in Navy Blue over the last decade, Hewett hasn’t only been tasked with hunting the ball, but also going head-to-head with a gun opposition midfielder when the situation presents. 

He received coaches’ votes in Opening Round for his performance against dual Brownlow Medallist Lachie Neale, keeping the Brisbane midfield gun to just 11 second-half disposals while also having the most of anyone on the ground himself.

He backed that up against North Melbourne against Luke Davies-Uniacke, adjudged by the coaches as the second-best player on the ground - behind only Harry McKay - for another showing where he not only quelled his opponent’s influence, but got involved offensively (26 disposals, nine clearances, one goal) as well.

After five games, the stats behind Hewett’s impact on the team speak for themselves. He rates elite in tackles and clearances so far this season, having at least five of each in every game so far this season and sitting No.1 at the Blues for both stats. He also sits second for disposals, behind only Cripps, and third for centre bounce attendances after Tom De Koning as well as his captain.

Happy to be back playing and performing a crucial role for his team each week, Hewett - speaking to media on Tuesday - was asked about what’s been behind his strong start to 2024.

“It’s more just trying to get continuity, and then I got to do most of the pre-season and felt really good. I think it stemmed from there.

“It’s been very impressive how tough the boys have been in training, so as long as we can keep translating that onto the field on game day, we should be okay.

“We know we’re playing really good footy, but we’re not quite at our best. We’re facing one of the best teams in the competition this year [on Saturday], so it’s going to be awesome to face them.”

Hewett’s hot start
Stats after five games

Disposals: 114 (ranked No.2 at Carlton)
Clearances: 33 (ranked No.1 at Carlton, No.10 in AFL)
Tackles: 30 (ranked No.1 at Carlton, No.15 in AFL)
Contested possessions: 56 (ranked No.2 at Carlton)
Centre bounce attendances: 110 (ranked No.3 at Carlton)