Hawks hero Mitchell flags potential move to Eagles
AFL: As far as trade bombshells went, this was one of the biggest. You almost had to check the calendar and make sure it wasn't April 1.
Hawthorn's five-time best-and-fairest winner and four-time premiership player Sam Mitchell joining West Coast. It was the revelation no one saw coming.
But, getting straight on to the front foot - whatever foot the ambidextrous midfielder chooses to use - the 34-year-old said it was all geared towards his eventual move into coaching.
If there is one senior coach in waiting still playing in the AFL it is Mitchell, who ticks all the boxes - from his incredible footy brain to his dedication to get the best out of himself and others.
With that in mind, Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson put forward the idea of him getting the ball rolling early and working with their friend, Eagles coach Adam Simpson.
Mitchell can walk straight into Simpson's coaching team when his playing days end - be it in 12 months or 24.
Clarkson has always been a fan of potential coaches getting out of their comfort zone, especially ones such as one-club player Mitchell, and experiencing life at rival clubs.
"Clarko came over and said, as a friend, 'Is that something you'd be interested in?'” Mitchell told SEN radio. "You could have knocked me over with a feather, to be honest.”
But after discussions with his wife Lyndall, Mitchell saw the move as the right one ... and now, with their three young children - son Smith, 6, and twin daughters Scarlett and Emerson, 5 - all about to start primary school.
"I went to my wife and told her what had happened and expected to be hit on the head. Because we had been considering moving, she was like, 'You know what, let's do it,' he said.
"If we are going to move, it is probably best for us as a family to do it now rather than later.”
Mitchell said it could be a win-win for all parties, with the Hawks looking to load up on their generation of onballers through Jaeger O'Meara (from Gold Coast) and Tom Mitchell (Sydney), and to "help free up the salary cap”.
West Coast chief executive Trevor Nisbett described Mitchell as "still one of the best players in the competition”.
"If our past dealings with Hawthorn and the way our clubs have dealt together (are) any indication, I think it (a trade) will get done,” Nisbett told Perth radio station 6iX.
Having only just collected his fifth Peter Crimmins Medal as the Hawks' best player, he could also cross the Nullarbor with a Brownlow Medal, whether he likes it or not.
With Essendon losing its appeal to the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland over its 12-month suspension by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the focus is now on whether Bombers skipper Jobe Watson is stripped of his 2012 league best and fairest.
Mitchell and Trent Cotchin were joint runners-up that year.
Mitchell's manager Peter Lenton said: "Sam was given the opportunity to present to the AFL why he should get the Brownlow, but he didn't want to do that.”