ZAK BUTTERS burst onto the scene last season as one third of Port Adelaide’s talented draft trio, but coming into his second year with the Power he is determined to continue to improve his game and lock down his place in the team.
Throughout pre-season, Butters has been easy to spot on the training track, often leading his running group after focusing heavily on his running during the off season.
It’s a fitting achievement for someone who has inherited Kane Cornes’ No. 18 jumper.
On the Sunshine Coast for Port’s pre-season camp this week, the Western Jets product is attacking his second AFL pre-season with his typical enthusiasm.
“It is just really good to have that base now and something to build off and attack this pre-season and see how much I can get out of myself and what levels I can reach,” Butters told portadelaidefc.com.au.
“Having a few surgeries over the last couple of years I feel like I am starting to get past that stage and really can attack gym work now.”
The 2018 number 12 draft pick said the tutelage of notorious hard worker Travis Boak has helped him put his best foot forward during the off season.
“I think I have started to develop my running this year and being a high forward I think it can be a real weapon for me in the future,” he said.
“Guys like Travis Boak have been really handy in that area giving me some advice in the off season – that’s where you can put in the work to get them extra percentages to come back and then be flying when pre-season comes.”
The players have been on the Sunshine Coast since last Thursday for their pre-season camp and Butters was full of praise for the facilities at the Sports Hub and Multi Sport Complex where the team is based.
“It’s just good to change the environment and they have got world class facilities in there. It’s just good to have new facilities and mix it up – it brings a bit of energy,” he said.
“It has been tough, training has been fun though. All the lads have just embraced it and worked really hard together. We’ve worked on the connection and coming together as a group better as well and I think that has come out on the track.
“Everyone is just trying to get the best out of themselves and have a bit of fun along the way.”
Away from the training track, the 19-year-old said it was a great chance for Port Adelaide’s playing group to continue to build their team chemistry while living in close quarters away from home.
“We have been coming together for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day so it is probably a bit different to when you’re at the club where you can sort of go off in your groups and eat separately,” he said.
“Spending every meal time together and having a bit of fun, a bit of ping pong.
“Then our accommodation we are all next to each other, basically just seeing each other every minute of the day.
“We’ve been doing a bit of work in the resilience program and that has been really handy for the lads to dip into that and work on the connection (with each other).”
Butters played 19 games in his debut season, but he is still working to secure his position in Port Adelaide’s best 22.
His return of 12 goals was eighth-best for the Power last season and Butters says more time up forward with leading goalkicker and fellow 2018 draftee Connor Rozee will only improve their synergy together.
“I think there is a couple of small forward spots up for grab there and I really want to cement my spot in the team in the forward line,” he said.
“I like playing that role, I like playing up forward with Rozee and some of the other young guys in that area.
“I think if you can really lock away and sort of develop our role in there and play a few seasons together I think it will help the future and help us connect as a forward line going forward.”
The former Vic Metro representative has also enjoyed getting to know Port’s latest crop of draftees, having previously played with fellow exciting forward Dylan Williams.
“It has been awesome to have the other young lads on board and I think we have sort of experienced that now and we can always reach out and help them. I think that they just bring more energy to the group,” he said.
“I played a bit of state footy with Dylan last year – with Vic Metro in my top age and he was bottom age – it is handy to get someone you know and you have played a bit of footy with recently
“It is good to have a few Metro boys up here in Adelaide again.
“They have all been super players. Miles Bergman took a nice mark at training the other day.
“It was good to see that.”