Port Adelaide CEO Matthew Richardson, RSL SA/NT President Dave Petersen and Zak Butters. Image: Matt Sampson.

IN a special week for Port Adelaide, the club will mark its 20th consecutive year of hosting an Anzac Appeal Round match, when it takes on St Kilda this Friday night. 

Vice-captain Zak Butters will also celebrate his 100th AFL game this week, with the young gun honoured to share his milestone with the special round. 

Butters, joined by Port Adelaide CEO Matthew Richardson and RSL SA/NT President Dave Petersen, spoke to the media on Tuesday to discuss the significance of the round, the club’s new ‘Power to Thrive’ program and Butters’ special milestone. 


Matthew Richardson opening remarks: 
“It’s a great privilege for the Port Adelaide Football Club to be hosting Anzac Round again this year. It's the 20th consecutive year that our club is hosting Anzac Round. It's a really significant and important round for our club. I want to welcome President of the RSL, Dave Peterson and Zak Butters who will be playing his 100th game this Friday night against St Kilda in the Anzac Round clash.  

“Just touching on the significance of Anzac Round for the Port Adelaide Footy Club. We've had 164 past players in active service and one current player, Maria Moloney, who is currently serving. Of course, two military medallists in William Roy Drummond from World War I and of course the legendary Bob Quinn in World War II. Plus, really importantly, our club does a lot of work in this space, we have an ADF Veterans program that helps veterans who are returning from active service and also today out here we're launching the Power to Thrive program which is a program specifically aimed at defence families. A lot of defence families relocate from all around the country so that connection with community is really important and we play a really active role in that, and we'd like to thank the Federal Department for Defence for their partnership in that program. Of course the Peter Badcoe Medal will be awarded to the player (who best displays the Anzac spirit) on Friday night. Obviously, it's going to be a big a big game Friday night, with a national audience and of course all the festivities that sit around it. 

“We'd like to thank Dave and the RSL, all the proceeds from our guernseys will be donated to the RSL (and the club’s ADF Veterans program). We've also been selling some hats this week, and ($10 from each) goes towards the ADF Veterans Program. So really important work for our club, looking forward to it. And, of course Zak’s100th game, which is a big occasion as well.” 

Richardson on the Power to Thrive program 
“As I said, we have two programs, so the ADF Veterans Program, which works with ex-servicemen and helps them with their transition back into society. And the Power to Thrive program works with the families and children of current servicemen and women. One of the things that they find really challenging is that they're often moving all around the country. So that connection into community and schools and is critical. So we've got 150 families here today as part of that involved in a clinic and all of those families will be coming to the footy on Friday night and I think they're currently touring the building with some of our players. So, it just plays a really important role in in helping connect those families into the community here in South Australia.” 

Richardson on hosting Anzac Appeal Round 
“It's always been our number one fixture request. Our connection to Anzac Round, as I said earlier, we’ve had 165 players serve our country. I guess it's one of the things that comes with Port Adelaide, it’s the authenticity and the history and not only are we proud of the role that we play there, but also, we continue to play a really active role with some of the programs like Power to Thrive in the ADF Veterans Program.  

Port Adelaide is proud to once again support the Anzac Appeal. Image: Matt Sampson.

Petersen on the RSL’s partnership with Port Adelaide 
“I think I really want to highlight that what Port Adelaide is doing here with their ADF Veterans program and their family program as well, no other football club in the country is doing this. This is not just tokenism on the day that Port Adelaide rocks up and does the Anzac commemorations. But they do it all the other days of the year. And that's what I think is really important through their generous support of the Anzac Appeal that allows us to continue to support veterans throughout the year, but also Port Adelaide is doing it every day as well.” 

Butters on his 100th game coinciding with Anzac Appeal Round 
“It’s a very special round for the footy club and on the big stage on a Friday night as well. We're looking forward to and not just the game but the build up throughout the whole week. And I've been lucky enough to be a part of the programs as a younger player at the club and have seen first-hand the work they do so I love being involved in these games and these kind of weeks.  

“The lives that Anzac Day touches throughout the year and all players and all the kids in today and their families, knowing they'll be at the game and they'll get some enjoyment out of it as well. And it's good to build those connections and really see them get better from it as well.” 

Butters on his career so far 
“(I haven’t done too much reflecting) on my career, to be honest. I think when you're in the hustle and bustle of the season, you’re trying to chase wins and focus on week by week, so haven't sort of looked back on my career too much. And I'm sure it's probably something I’ll do at a later date, but very grateful to get to 100 games and as a kid, you just want to play one AFL game. It does sound pretty cliche, but yeah, growing up, it seems a million miles away but it also it comes pretty quick once you get here.” 

Butters on flourishing at Port Adelaide 
“I’ve been very grateful that this club gave me an opportunity. And I've really enjoyed the move over to Adelaide and the friendships I've created and the footy club’s been a really good place to me and has given me a lot. I like to think that I've still got some repaying to do as well to the footy club. And yeah, chasing that premiership is still a very big goal of mine, and many of the players at the footy club and many of the staff, we’re all chasing the same thing so I like being on that journey here.” 

Vice-captain Zak Butters has enjoyed an incredibly productive first 99 games of his AFL career. Image: AFL Photos.

Butters on developing his leadership 
“Yeah, it's been a good year, I think it's been a solid start to the year. And yeah, there's been a few challenges, but also some highlights and good moments as well. And I feel like as a player not too much has changed for mine, a little bit in terms of a few more extra meetings and whatnot but I've tried to keep things pretty natural and keep things how I am and how I play my football. So I don't think too much has changed. And the club's been very good in sort of handling that. 

“I feel like me and Connor and a few other boys have done a lot of work previously leading into this year so it hasn't really felt like a massive jump. We've done a lot of emerging leaders programs and some really good guidance along our younger years so it hasn't really felt like there's been a massive jump or change in ourselves, which has been good.” 

Butters on game reviews over the past two rounds 
“We've got some work to do on a few areas. And I think we're well aware of that. And, yeah, it's a tough competition and most teams have very good midfields so going into each week, you know, we've got some things to work on. And I feel like if we can really nail down them, we can beat most midfields if we put our hands in and get dirty. 

Port Adelaide had a close win against Fremantle in Round 5 and a loss to Collingwood in Round 6. Image: AFL Photos.

Butters on being beaten in the contest 
“I think it's definitely something that we need to go to work on as a whole team, probably not just the midfield but in all aspects of the ground. And I think in big games against really good, elite teams, that’s something you need to win and a key stat that definitely goes a long way to winning the game. So I feel like we've put a focus on it and we will really try and train it and get the best out of it."

“I think when you hear contested ball, you think automatically it's stoppage, it’s a midfield battle, but contested ball is all over the ground. So I think when it's that big of a number, I think you've got a lot of areas you probably need to tweak to look at some things and get better. And I feel like there's a few structural things we can tweak and also just a bit of work-rate stuff and getting our hands dirty and actually getting in the contest.” 

Butters on centre bounce combinations 
“I think the balance has been good, I think it’s not all about us three (Butters, Rozee and Horne-Francis). We've got a Brownlow Medallist there and Ollie Wines and Willem Drew plays his role and definitely complements us so I think we've got a nice crew. And then I think we work really well together. We'll get our chances where it's just me, Connor and Jason but I think we've got a pretty talented group in there that it doesn't always have to be us.” 

Butters on big games 
“Yeah, I think that'd be a fair statement that we consistently probably haven't got it done and those big games and we're not shying away from that as a football club, we sort of noted that in our review yesterday that it’s something that we need to get to work on. But we do think we're a really good football team and we feel like to take the next step, we obviously have to start performing in those games and really going to work on things and stand up in those games of football. And I feel like that's something that we're trying to do and we're trying to work on. So I feel like, hopefully, throughout the year that comes to the forefront.”