PORT Adelaide midfielder Travis Boak, who is being courted by six Victorian clubs in the hope of enticing him to return home next year, has deferred a decision on his future until later in the year.
Boak had planned to make up his mind about whether to re-commit to Port or return home after spending this week in Victoria with family after Port gave its players a break while the team has its bye.
He is understood to have told the club yesterday that he was not ready to make a decision and wanted to wait until later in the year, which has intensified speculation that he intends to return home.
Geelong, Essendon, North Melbourne, Carlton, Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs are all courting Boak, who is out of contract at season's end.
Geelong and Essendon are seen to be leading the charge with the Cats the most likely destination for the player who grew up in Torquay and played for the Geelong Falcons.
Geelong was extremely keen on Boak ahead of the 2006 draft and would have taken him with their first pick (No. 7) had he been available, but he had already been selected by the Power. Geelong instead took Joel Selwood with that pick and, as it turns out, Boak and the Geelong captain are good friends as they played against one another in the TAC and junior football. That is also being seen as another influence on the Port midfielder changing clubs.
The Cats have some salary cap relief to be able to afford the bid for Boak with a number of their ageing premiership players moving into retirement or onto the veterans' list.
The recent decision by Patrick Dangerfield, another potential homecoming elite midfielder, to re-sign and remain in Adelaide ensured Boak became the prime focus for the Cats.
They also seemingly have a capacity to do a deal as they still have a compensation pick for losing Gary Ablett to the Gold Coast.
That selection is tied to their ladder position and is taken immediately after their regular first-round choice. The only other clubs with valuable mid-first round compensation picks are Melbourne and the Bulldogs.
Essendon last year made a strong play for Gold Coast midfielder Josh Caddy and, having made a strong bid for Boak two years ago when he was last out of contract, are also believed to be firmly in the picture again this time around.
Victorian clubs are likely to need to offer five-year deals to encourage him to leave Port with the player also likely to command about $600,000 a year.
The 23-year-old is already understood to be Port's highest paid player and is happy at the Power, but he reportedly is also drawn to the idea of returning to Victoria to be closer to his family and friends.
He shared Port's best and fairest last year and is considered an emerging gun of the competition.
At present, Boak is out injured having sustained a plantar fascia injury that required minor surgery. He may return for the Geelong game after the bye.