IN THE MEDIA: Lleyton considered switching codes after Slowdown..
LLEYTON Hewitt will go down as one of Australia’s greatest tennis players, but he also could’ve been remembered as an Adelaide Crows traitor.
Former Port Adelaide coach Mark Williams has revealed that Hewitt once seriously inquired about earning a spot on the Power’s list while he was at the top of his tennis game.
While Hewitt has always been a mad Adelaide supporter — he has been the Crows’ No. 1 ticket-holder for most of the decade — it has been revealed that he seriously contemplated a sport switch while Williams was coaching Port Adelaide.
Hewitt had been spending time at the Power alongside Williams and tennis coach Roger Rasheed — a mad Port Adelaide fan.
And after winning two Grand Slams and reaching the No. 1 ranking in the world, Williams said that Hewitt briefly toyed with the idea of following in the footsteps of other family members by joining an AFL club.
“Lleyton rang me prior to the rookie draft and, because of his love of football and the love for what his dad and his uncles had done … Lleyton said: ‘What if you put me on the rookie list?” Williams said told SEN.
“I was prepared to put him on the rookie list and I had Roger Rasheed ringing me saying, ‘you can’t do this.’”
Hewitt’s father and uncle both played in the SANFL during the 1970s and ‘80s, with dad Glynn then representing Richmond and uncle Darryl playing for St Kilda in the VFL.
Williams said he never doubted Hewitt’s enthusiasm, but that he might’ve struggled against the bigger bodies.
“He played in one of the ‘Slowdowns’ over in Adelaide and did pretty good. I looked at him and because of his relationship with me and his family, I could see that he had nous when it came to footy,” Williams said.
“He might’ve done OK. I told him he probably wouldn’t have been any good because he was a skinny runt. But there’ve been a few skinny runts that have done OK too.
“He would bite and scratch and do anything possible to succeed.”
Williams said even putting Hewitt on Port’s list and not giving him a senior game would’ve given the club — and the league — worldwide publicity.
“Maybe he would sit in the forward pocket, maybe he wouldn’t do anything but train,” Williams said.
“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 and he was prepared to walk away and play footy.”
While Hewitt had been a key member of Australia’s Davis Cup teams, Williams said Hewitt craved being part of team success after a successful career in a primarily individual sport.
“He loved the aspect of football and team and that was the thing he missed,” Williams said.
“He talked about how we — as in Davis Cup for Australia — could establish that team mentality and pack mentality.”
Williams added: “That’s what some of these footballers have to understand how lucky we have been to get that opportunity to play at the top.”