AFL 2 years ago

Time to unleash the Butch

  • Time to unleash the Butch

    MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 21: John Butcher of Port Adelaide is acknowledged by Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley after the Power defeted the Hawks during the round 21 AFL match between the Hawthorn Hawks and Port Adelaide Power at Etihad Stadium on August 21, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

I have lost count the number of times over the years I have said “Let’s give John Butcher one more chance” But when you have lost two games in three weeks by a combined 144 points then sometimes patience, rationale and clear thinking goes out the window. But is the idea to recall John Butcher that farfetched?  If Port Adelaide had no intention of giving John Butcher an opportunity in 2016 then why give him a contract extension? Now is the time to unleash the Butch because if not now, then when?

Previously Ken Hinkley has stressed the importance of players earning their position at AFL level. You could certainly argue some players currently are not performing at a satisfactory level. But Hinkley has also made it clear that players who come into the AFL team do so based on merit with performance on the board at SANFL level.

After an awful round 1 SANFL performance John Butcher has certainly responded in his last two games. Butcher has provided a focal point up forward with strong marking, strong work ethic and putting pressure on the opposition.  Most importantly however we have seen an impact on the scoreboard with 7 goals in the last two matches.

The Port Adelaide forward line along with the rest of the team certainly requires change as it is simply not functioning. The loss of Paddy Ryder in 2016 will continue to leave a massive hole in the team. While Ryder chipped in with 18 goals in 2015, his ruck work is sorely missed as Matthew Lobbe continues to struggle. Jay Schulz has undergone back surgery and while the club hope he will return within an 8 to 10 week timeframe it is still uncertain if Schulz will come back at all and what level of output the 31 year old will provide.

Port Adelaide continues to be smashed in the middle of the ground. Justin Westhoff is spending more time in the defensive half of the ground as Port Adelaide try and stem the heavy scoring against them. Port Adelaide has conceded over 100 points in three out of four games. Adelaide and GWS both kicking over 20 goals against the fragile Port Adelaide.

A lot of pressure currently sits on Charlie Dixon as the key forward target. A player coming off an injury interrupted 2015 and now trying to find his feet at a new club. It is a lot of expectation.  The ability to perform is certainly not helped with Port Adelaide one of the worst teams in the competition for disposal efficiency.  I wrote about John Butcher last year and many of the views I had then still resonate today.  John Butcher is still playing for his career. Does the coaching staff have enough faith to give Butcher another chance?

The match against Geelong this Saturday night looms as a must win for Port Adelaide. A lot of the excitement around watching Port Adelaide has certainly evaporated in the last year and losing two games by massive margins early in the year has certainly dampened 2016 expectation.

One of the genuine enjoyable moments last year was “Butch” kicking a goal at Adelaide Oval i the matches against GWS and Fremantle. John Butcher on the field will at least provide some entertainment and energy. Who knows, he might provide a genuine forward target and kick some goals as well.

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