Emerging Port Adelaide midfielder Zak Butters is embracing the challenge of offering greater support to the Power’s established stars.
Ken Hinkley’s men have lost in consecutive preliminary finals, with last year’s 71-point defeat to the Western Bulldogs particularly disappointing.
Butters identified himself among a group of young players, including fellow 2018 draftees Connor Rozee and Xavier Duursma and impressive first-year player Josh Sinn, who can lighten experienced teammates’ load.
He said others needed to step up if Port was to go further and the club could no longer rely on the likes of Travis Boak, Robbie Gray, Tom Jonas and Brownlow medallist Ollie Wine.
“I think as that early-to-mid-20-year-old group, I think we’ve put the ownership on us to help the club get better and take that responsibility,” Butters said.
“I don’t really see it too much as pressure. I think it’s more a challenge … myself, personally, that’s something I look forward to and that’s why I get out of bed every morning, to get better and improve and show what I can do.
“I think that’s very exciting for myself and I don’t really see that too much as pressure.
“I think it’s just a great opportunity for myself and something I can work towards. I think that’s how most boys hopefully see it as well.”
Butters, who is fully recovered from a foot injury, said there was serious competition for midfield spots at the Power ahead of the season, with Dan Houston another who was putting his hand up.
“I think that is healthy as a footy club. You want that as footy club,” he said.
“I don’t think anyone wants to be rocking up knowing that they’re comfortable and they can walk into that midfield.
“You’ve got to be rocking up and fighting for it every day and that’s what we’ve got going on at the moment … that’s going to give us the best version of the 22 to actually walk out on game day and perform.”
Butters, who expects to complement his midfield role with stints at half-forward, said the manner of last year’s finals exit still burned.
“The way that we went out last year; we just want to get back to playing footy – and some good footy as well,” he said.
“We’ve had a good training off-season and worked on some things that we need to work on and I think we’re just looking forward to hopefully putting that out on the field game day.
“We need to keep working on our contested stuff. That’s where we got beaten in the prelim and what let us down, so as a midfield group this year that’s something we’re really focused on.”