West Coast will consider handing Australian Boomers star Mark Worthington the chance to live out his lifelong AFL dream when he flies home to WA next week.
Fresh from his second Olympic campaign, Worthington will undertake fitness and medical testing with the Eagles with a view to changing sports under special AFL rules relating to elite athletes.
The nephew of former Collingwood defender Kevin Worthington recently secured a lucrative contract to play basketball in Serbia after his NBL team, Gold Coast, folded at the end of last season.
The 29-year-old said he was excited about his Serbian venture, but had a long-held ambition to rekindle what had been a promising football career as a teenager.
West Coast chief executive Trevor Nisbett confirmed the club had flagged interest in Worthington under the same rookie-list rules that had seen Karmichael Hunt (rugby league), Israel Folau (rugby league), Setanta O'hAilpin (hurling) and Lachie Keeffe (soccer) join AFL clubs.
The rules allow clubs to sign athletes, outside the salary cap, as long as they have not played in any AFL-affiliated competition for more than three years.
Worthington, a mobile 202cm athlete, had previously attracted interest from Sydney and Richmond.
Nisbett said the competitive Australind product commanded consideration because of his football pedigree and for the fact that the club needed to explore new ways of improving its list.
"Nothing ventured, nothing gained and everyone knows where they're at," Nisbett said.
"If we both decided to give this a crack, he'd start as a rookie and be a back-up player, but we'd train him up and after a pre-season, you just don't know where he'd end up.
"His pedigree as a junior was outstanding so it shouldn't take him too long.
"He'd want to prove that he could actually play and for us, it's almost a free swing even though it would cost us a little bit to secure him. It's a sojourn into something we haven't done much of and would open it up for basketballers around the world to have a look at our sport.
"The thing is, he plays basketball like a footballer and they're the sort of things that appeal to us. You wouldn't be getting someone who isn't competitive and if you don't give it a crack, you'll never know."
Nisbett said the Eagles had also identified a shortfall in mature-aged tall players.
He pointed to the difference in age between 31-year-old ruckman Dean Cox and 19-year-old Scott Lycett.
Worthington played US college basketball in Denver before returning to Australia where he was named the NBL's 2005-06 rookie of the year.
He was a Commonwealth Games gold medallist in 2006 and also captained the now-defunct South Dragons to the 2008-09 NBL championship.
"It's been a huge itch," Worthington said of a potential switch to football.
"It's something that I've always wanted. As a junior I had to make the choice between basketball and football and I chose basketball because it could take you around the world and take you to the Olympics.
"I've checked those things off the list and need a new challenge.
"Playing in Serbia would definitely give me that, but so would trying to play in the AFL.
"I've always loved the AFL from afar and there's just something about it that always makes your mind tick over.
"I've always had a bit of a mean streak, but you can't always take that out on a basketball court. The physical contact is something I still crave and I want to test it out to see where I'm at."
"I've always had a bit of a mean streak, but you can't always take that out on a basketball court."" *Mark Worthington *