At a glance:
- Dan Butler is ready and willing to welcome additional opposition attention following his starring role last season.
- Butler finished second in the Trevor Barker Award, earned club goalkicking honours and was named in the extended All-Australian squad.
- The 24-year-old will be joined up forward and higher up the ground by new recruit Jack Higgins, as well as talls Mason Wood and Shaun McKernan.
Dan Butler’s name is well and truly on opposition radars heading into the new season, but the reigning leading goalkicker is ready and willing to welcome the added attention.
The 24-year-old proved to be one of the best pick-ups of the trade period – exchanged to St Kilda for pick No. 56 – before announcing himself as one of the most destructive small forwards of last season.
Butler ended the year with a second-placed finish at the Trevor Barker Award, club goalkicking honours and selection into the 40-man All-Australian squad.
Now, the mulleted forward has been flagged in enemy war rooms right around the country.
“I probably noticed in the second half of last year I was getting a bit more attention, but I think it’s something I’ve got to work through this year coming,” Butler told saints.com.au.
“There’s a lot of good small defenders out there, so I’m expecting maybe a little bit more attention, but I’ve just got to keep backing myself in and see how other small forwards have dealt with it.
“There’s a lot of gun small forwards out there that are getting attention every week, so hopefully I can still push through and kick a few goals.”
Butler rapidly jumped to the top of opposition hit-lists following his explosive first half of 2020.
By season’s end, he ranked as the highest-rated pressure player inside forward-50, had registered a league-high 37 tackles inside-50 and charted second for pressure acts among all forwards.
The reigning leading goalkicker jammed home 21 goals from his first 10 matches before rival backlines put in the minutes to curb his damaging scoreboard impact (eight goals from his last nine matches).
Heading into the new year, ex-Tigers teammate Jack Higgins is set to add to St Kilda’s small forward fleet and help Butler in applying his relentless pressure further up the ground.
“Higgo’s settled into the forward line well, so we’ll have the next few practice games to work together again as a front six or seven and oil it all up before Round 1,” Butler said.
“We’ll probably alternate roles a bit this year with the game lengths increasing and the rotations going down, so we’ll probably have to change a few different roles.
Ryder ?? Higgins ?? Goal.— St Kilda FC (@stkildafc) February 26, 2021
All in the first 30 seconds. pic.twitter.com/wunKecYF9C
“At times I’ll be higher up the ground and other times I’ll be deeper, so just depending on what the game state is we’ll just have to be ready to play multiple roles.
“We’ve had a few people come in – Shaun McKernan, Mason Wood and Higgins as well –and it gives us so many options going forward.
“I’m not too sure what the final line-up will look like, but we just know we’ve got a lot of good players in all positions and we’ve got a bit of depth inside the arc.”