Naïve and stupid is how I feel after allowing myself to be seduced by Port Adelaide in 2021. Why did I think this year was going to be any different to the disappointment we have come to expect from Port Adelaide for the best part of 20 years?
Zak Butters has impressed in the SANFL on Saturday on return from an ankle injury and looks set to make his AFL comeback for Port Adelaide against Melbourne.
The Power are flying ahead of the Adelaide Oval clash on the back of three straight wins, including a 34-point triumph over Hawthorn in Shaun Burgoyne’s milestone 400th game.
But they have often struggled against fellow flag contenders this season, holding a disappointing 1-4 record against current top-eight sides.
Butters’ return from an ankle injury that had kept him sidelined since April will help their cause.
The 20-year-old star kicked two goals from 21 disposals in his SANFL comeback match on Saturday to press his claims for a senior call-up.
“Zak will push for Thursday,” Power coach Ken Hinkley said after the win over Hawthorn.
“He got through the (SANFL) game well today and I’m not in any way disrespectful to the competition but Zak Butters is an AFL player any day of the week.
“He just needed to get a game under his belt to give him some confidence that he can play.
“He won’t be perfect if he comes in next week or the week after, but he’ll be there making us better every week that he’s in the team.”
Port still have a significant injury list that included front-liners Robbie Gray, Orazio Fantasia, Lachie Jones and Tom Rockliff.
Tom Clurey returned in the SANFL on Saturday and Xavier Duursma will do the same next week after recovering from a knee injury that has kept him out since Round 4.
But Kane Farell now faces a long stint on the sidelines after sustaining a serious knee injury during the first quarter against Hawthorn.
“We won’t know exactly but we suspect it will be a (torn) ACL,” Hinkley said.
“It’s a real tragedy because he’s really made some great strides this year as a young player.”
Port will return to South Australia on Sunday after being moved to Melbourne at short notice because of COVID-19 issues and spending several days there in the build-up to the Hawthorn match.