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Hinkley lauds performance of young guns

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 30: Zak Butters of the Power celebrates a goal during the 2019 AFL round 02 match between the Port Adelaide Power and the Carlton Blues at Adelaide Oval on March 30, 2019 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by James Elsby/AFL Photos)
ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 30: Zak Butters of the Power celebrates a goal during the 2019 AFL round 02 match between the Port Adelaide Power and the Carlton Blues at Adelaide Oval on March 30, 2019 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by James Elsby/AFL Photos)

PORT ADELAIDE senior coach Ken Hinkley has been extremely impressed with the performances of first year-players Connor Rozee, Zak Butters and Xavier Duursma so far this season.

Hinkley has heaped praise on Port’s recruitment staff for their ability to find players who could step straight into senior football and have an impact.

“I think Parkes (Geoff Parker) and Crippa (Jason Cripps) have done a great job, that’s what I think,” Hinkley told SEN’s SA Breakfast.

“When you think about Connor, Zak and Xavier - what an incredible effort from those boys.

“They are going to go into their fourth game in Round 4 all in their first year.”

The senior coach says the high level of play rising star nominee, Rozee, reached in just his third AFL game was exceptional and a rare feat for someone so inexperienced.

“Connor, what an unbelievable game. You don’t see too many games like that from a first-year player,” he said.

“He nearly single-handedly won us the game.”

Hinkley says he had to have a quiet word with Butters, however, whose courage and attack on the player and the football saw him fined by the MRO in Round 3.

“I spoke to him yesterday and I said to him, Zak you’ve just got to be a little bit cautious,” Hinkley said.

“And he said to me, 'I just don’t want to look soft...I just don’t want to look like that player who doesn’t go.'

“I mean, what can you say to a young 18-year-old who gives you that reply?

“I said, 'well mate it’s as dangerous for you as it is for the opposition so be a bit careful. Don’t leave the ground very often. Try and stay on the ground as best you can.'

“He is a brave little bugger and we love that about him.”

The Power host Richmond in a blockbuster Round 4 clash at Adelaide Oval on Saturday afternoon from 4.05pm ACST.