HAWTHORN star Sam Mitchell appears set to join West Coast next season.
Mitchell could join the Eagles in 2017 on a one-year playing contract with a coaching component attached to his contract in the years after that.
The 34-year-old, who recently won his fifth best and fairest award at the Hawks, revealed it was coach Alastair Clarkson who put forward the option of joining the Eagles.
"I didn't go to the club and say I want to go to West Coast," Mitchell told SEN radio.
"Clarko came over and said, as a friend, 'Is that something you'd be interested in?'
"And you could have knocked me over with a feather to be honest."
After digesting the news, Mitchell spoke with his wife Lyndall about the possibility of the move and as a family they decided it was the right fit for them.
Mitchell has three young children – Smith, Scarlett and Emerson – and said he felt the time might be right to make the move.
Mitchell, who signed a new one-year deal to play at the Hawks next season in July, said the close bond between Clarkson and West Coast coach Adam Simpson played a big role in discussions.
"There's been some talk about this for two weeks, so the amount of people who have known about it with the behind the scenes going on at the club shows the respect between the two clubs.
"If this goes through, because there's no certainty it will, we look at it as a win for Hawthorn, because it frees up salary cap space.
"And then hopefully I can go over and help West Coast."
Regarded as one of the club's greatest ever players, Mitchell has played 307 games after being drafted with pick No.36 in the 2001 national draft.
He is a chance to be awarded the 2012 Brownlow Medal, alongside Richmond's Trent Cotchin, if the AFL decides to strip Essendon's Jobe Watson of the award because of the Bombers' supplements saga.
Mitchell, who is on holidays in New Zealand, said there was no certainty he would join the Eagles.
"I'm in a bit of a funny spot, because if I stay at Hawthorn that's great and I've had a great career there and will continue to do so," Mitchell said.
"If the move is to West Coast, I'd be excited by the prospect, and I feel like I've done the right thing by Hawthorn if that's what eventuates."
"It's the first time, in my 15-year career, that I've ever been a chance to be involved in a trade so it's a bit of an awkward situation at the moment and I can't jump into either camp at the moment."
Hawthorn has made no secret of its desire to create salary cap space to help bring both Gold Coast's Jaeger O'Meara and Sydney Swan Tom Mitchell into the club.
If Mitchell does go to West Coast, the Hawks will have significant room to move in their salary cap and perhaps not have to give away one of their proven stars in a trade.
"I hope the Hawthorn fans would hate to see me go if that's the way it went," Mitchell said.
"If you look at some of the young guys that they'll get in in a few years time I'll be finished and forgotten about and they'll be saying every one got something out of that trade."