He’s a tough nut in the midfield, but Elijah Hewett is also one of the toughest nuts to crack when it comes to this year’s AFL draft class.
The West Australian has produced some mouth-watering performances at for both the WAFL Colts and Swan Districts, but the consistency of those efforts has waned and was certainly hindered by Covid at the start of the season, with its effects lingering for two months.
It proved a difficult setback for a player who is obsessive when it comes to his preparation, be it in his former passion of baseball or his current one of football.
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“I’ve outsourced boxing coaches, so I box pretty regularly,” Hewett told foxfooty.com.au.
“I’ve found a stretch coach who’s really assisted me in my stretching and my ability to get into positions I couldn’t otherwise.
“My mobility has improved so much and fitness throughout the season has been good also.
“My gym program I outsource, it’s written specifically towards me and it’s tweaked down to the single rep, that’s how obsessive it is.”
Hewett’s desire to ready himself for football at AFL level is considerable, with the midfielder’s time in the WAFL exposing him to fierce competition and far bigger bodies.
“It’s a great stepping stone playing senior football and then you know hopefully playing AFL football next year, instead of going from one level to 10 levels up straight away,” he said.
“It’s provided insight that I probably wouldn’t have got otherwise, fitness-wise, the training standards, and just general play is a lot higher quality. I think it’s been amazing and I think it’ll probably paid dividends next year or the year after.
“Some of the boys are huge out in the West in senior football. I think for me, it‘s just kind of being able to capitalise on my strengths, my speed and my run from stoppage and also my fitness.”
Hewett’s weaponry was on full display in July, when he starred for WA against Vic Metro in the AFL National Under-18s Championship opener.
That day, Hewett set Ikon Park alight with a game-high 29 possessions, 11 inside 50s and two goals.
“I think for people it‘s kind of just been like a matter of time waiting for me to have a breakout game to show what I’m really capable of, because this year I haven’t performed to the level I would’ve liked to,” Hewett admitted.
“That was a great game to showcase what I’m capable of. If I was able to do that consistently I’d probably be in a lot better position.”
It’s that mix of immense promise with less impressive performances that makes Hewett arguably the hardest player to get a read on heading into the draft.
Hewett has met with St Kilda coach Ross Lyon, but the Saints are highly unlikely to take him with pick No.9 and their next pick, 28, is likely too deep in the order for him to still be available.
It leaves the door ajar for the Saints to trade a future second-round selection in order to get a pick that could snare Hewett.
Essendon has interest in Hewett, too, but again would be gambling that he’s available at pick No.22.
Adelaide is another club with eyes on Hewett, but their meagre draft hand would mean at least one future pick would have to exchange hands to get a high enough selection to snare him.
Intriguingly, there’s a chance West Coast could overlook Hewett with its first three picks – 8, 12 and 20 – which is somewhat surprising given his West Australian roots, but perhaps speaks to the uncertainty surrounding Hewett’s output.
In any case, Hewett is prepared for an interstate move.
“Obviously the odds are against you if you want to stay in WA,” he said.
“I think I‘ve definitely come to terms and my family has as well. We’re just really excited to see what’s going to happen in the next couple of months.
“I’d love to move interstate and get an opportunity elsewhere and see what happens because long-term if it’s best for my growth and opportunities-wise then I’ll take it with two hands and run.”
While his output has at times waned, Hewett’s desire to get the most out of himself is channelled with surgical precision – a fitting adage given his father’s occupation.
“He’s a surgeon. I’ve learned a lot of characteristics which are definitely applicable to football,” he said.
“He‘s taught me persistence and the reach for really high expectations and greatness. For me it’s never been about selling myself short and trying to reach kind of average goals, I really want to be the best and go and be at the top of my game relative to the rest of the competition.
“My Dad’s been very influential in that regard, he’s always pushed me to have high expectations of myself and he’s expected high things of me.
“I guess it’s just that persistence in the relentlessness, the pursuit of greatness is just something that I got off him and it’s been amazing.”