George Hewett has signed a four-year deal with Carlton as a restricted free agent, becoming the first change to the playing group under new coach Michael Voss.

Hewett comes from Sydney with a reputation as a strong tackler with a defensive mindset that can shut down some of the game's best midfielders.

However, he isn't the first ready-made player to walk through the doors of Ikon Park in recent years. Zac Williams, Adam Saad, Mitch McGovern and Jack Martin have all come to Carlton from other clubs with high expectations.

That quartet is a highly skilled and attacking group that has had varying levels of success in the navy blue.

But the recruitment of Hewett isn't on the same lines as the above-mentioned names. And that's not because he isn't as good as those players, it's because of what the acquisition of the 25-year-old signifies.

Embed from Getty Images

It's a sign of the change of thinking going on at Carlton. In the same way that Voss' appointment and Brian Cook coming on board as CEO showed that the Blues were going in a different direction. Hewett's signature is a sign of that shift in the playing group.

All of Williams, Saad, McGovern and Martin were brought in based on what they can do with the ball in hand. It was all about how exciting they were when attacking the opposition.

Embed from Getty Images

That's not to say they were bad recruits. Saad, in particular, has been a stellar get by the Blues and Martin impressed last year before injuries hampered his 2021. Williams and McGovern have shown terrific glimpses of what they can do but have lacked continuity.

But Hewett has been pursued by the Blues for what he can do without the ball and when the ball is in the balance. He was rated elite for tackles, pressure, clearances, groundball gets, contested possessions & contested possession rate in 2021.

He amassed an incredible 13 tackles and 28 pressure acts vs GWS in the elimination final this year.

Embed from Getty Images

Hewett's game puts just as much focus into what happens when he is defending as it does when attacking. That wasn't the case for Carlton last year, who looked impartial to the idea of defending.

Carlton hasn't recruited someone with such a strong emphasis on what they do without the ball in a very long time.

There has also seemingly been a want to transition veteran Ed Curnow out of the midfield for some time with an eye to trying him as a defensive forward.

Embed from Getty Images

This was attempted in 2019 by Brendon Bolton before Curnow was restored to the midfield by David Teague with the Blues youngsters struggling to hold up against more experienced midfields.

Hewett provides Carlton with the opportunity to phase Curnow out of a full-time midfield role should they still wish to do so.

There needs to be a clear shift in the mentality surrounding defence for the Blues next season should they want to make finals as new president Luke Sayers expects. But this is a step in the right direction.

It is almost certain that Hewett will be the lower-key of Carlton's midfield recruits this off-season with Fremantle young gun Adam Cerra nominating the Blues as his preferred destination.

Embed from Getty Images

And while a terrific recruit, Cerra isn't as significant to the shift in Carlton's style of play and attitude. He doesn't stand for what Carlton is moving towards as much as Hewett. Cerra is a classy upgrade on what the Blues currently have.

That's no knock on the returning Victorian, but it shows why Hewett may be the more significant recruit when looked back upon by Blues fans.

Hewett may not be the poster boy at the end of Carlton's trade period, but he will be a key cog in the adjustments this Carlton midfield and team as a whole attempt to make in a bid to return to finals for the first time since 2013.