Port Adelaide star Butters earns high praise from coach
Zak Butters' coach calls him a "tough, brave, little prick".
Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley can think of no higher praise for Butters after his game-turning exploits in the Power's four-point win over Melbourne.
Hinkley is always at pains not to individualise.
But he concedes Butters' performance - a career-high 41 disposals, two goals, a dozen score involvements, eight inside 50s, nine clearances - warrants singling out.
"Zak's game deserves a little bit of that," Hinkley said after Port's 11.14 (80) to 11.10 (76) triumph on Friday night.
"I am not sure there's too many better games you will see from a little fella who is a tough, brave little prick who takes big moments and turns them into something special.
"Zak can't do that without the team - that is really, really important.
"But the the team needs some people to stand up at crucial moments and there was a number of those."
Butters gathered 23 touches in the first half to help give Port the ascendancy.
And when the Demons charged in their seven-goal third term to take the lead, Butters kicked two of Port's three majors to rally the home side.
The 22-year-old did so wearing the Power's No.9 guernsey, made famous by the legendary Robbie Gray - a triple club champion and four-time All Australian.
Gray retired at the end of last season and, in a significant gesture, gave his cherished No.9 to Butters.
"Robbie knew who he was giving his jumper to, and it has been vindicated, hasn't it?" Hinkley said.
"He has handed it over to a pretty special player himself."
Butters' excellence iced yet another narrow victory for the Power.
Of their seven consecutive wins, five have been by 14 points or less.
"The key to that, the reason that we can do that, is that we just stick to a process which is quite simple," Hinkley said,
"We work hard, we pressure hard, and we try to halve as many balls as we possibly can and then we see what happens from there."
Port's latest stirring triumph came without key forwards Charlie Dixon (thigh) and Todd Marshall (concussion) - both are expected to be fit for next Sunday's away game against Richmond.
But the Power have fresh injury concerns with stalwarts Travis Boak (ribs) and Trent McKenzie (corked hamstring) both failing to finish the game against the Demons.