Port Adelaide premiership coach Mark Williams has revealed that Australian tennis legend Lleyton Hewitt almost quit tennis to join the Power.
Speaking on SEN Radio, Williams said Hewitt once asked to be drafted to the Power as a rookie in order to follow in the footsteps of his father Glynn and uncle Darryl and play football at the highest level.
At the time Hewitt had spent time training at the club’s base as he was coached by Port Adelaide fan, Roger Rasheed, and he was strongly considering a career change, such was his love for AFL.
And Williams said he was prepared to offer the tennis star a rookie contract.
“Lleyton rang me prior to the rookie draft and because of his love of football and the love for what his dad and his uncle had done, Lleyton said ‘What if you put me on the rookie list?” Williams said on SEN on Monday afternoon.
“I was prepared to put him on the rookie list… He loved the aspect of football and team and that was the thing he missed.
“He played in one of the ‘Slowdowns’ over in Adelaide and did pretty good. I looked at him and I could see that he had nous when it came to footy.”
Williams admitted that it would have been a gamble, but said the publicity gained from the signing would have justified the move.
“Maybe he would sit in the forward pocket, maybe he wouldn’t do anything but train but imagine the amount of publicity around the world to have this guy, who was certainly top one or two in the world at that time, prepared to walk away,” he said.
However, Rasheed convinced him to stick with tennis and the rest is history.
Hewitt and his family are probably thankful he decided to continue his tennis career, given he retired with over $20 million in prize money. The current base salary for an AFL rookie is $55,440.
For the record, Hewitt is a mad Adelaide Crows fan.