Leagues: NAB League Boys
POSITION: Medium Forward/Midfielder
SNAPSHOT: "A clean and clever utility who can play through the midfield or up forward, Butler is damaging around goals with some elite acceleration, and the defensive traits to match his offensive output."
Sam Butler is a midfielder/forward out of the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and the brother of St Kilda forward, Dan. The crafty talent is really impressive both ways, able to win the ball offensively, and also defensively, to be the complete package from that sense. Gifted with blistering acceleration, the areas of improvement include backing himself to take the game on more - not just giving off the quick handball - and gaining greater consistency by foot going forward.
+ Clean hands
+ Forward craft
+ Defensive work
- Kicking consistency
- Decision making
Butler is an eye-catching player, with some of the quickest wheels going around. Early in the season, the 184cm talent was stationed forward, and able to not only hit the scoreboard, but set up his teammates with his dash and creativity inside 50. He then moved into a part-time midfield role to match his forward time, and began to win the ball through the middle while still hitting the scoreboard. As a full-time midfielder, Butler was able to adapt to the stoppages and win the ball in close and get it out through clearances, though his field kicking consistency let him down at times.
In many ways, Butler is a catch 22, because he often puts more pressure on himself then he needs considering his ability to burst away from opponents. If he took the extra few steps, he would be able to compose himself and make a better decision, but in saying that, his lightning quick hands allow him to release teammates in close. His hands are as clean as anyone's, and his ability to win the ball, dish it off and then go for the receive is fantastic. That, coupled with the fact he does the hard, defensive running as well, means he has an all-round game.
Once Butler backs himself more through confidence, he will be able to steady more and use the ball in more impactful ways going forward. He can hit the scoreboard, he can burst away, and he can tackle. As a forward - which is where he will start at AFL level - Butler has the mix of defensive and offensive traits that will keep a coach happy. As a midfielder, his hands in close allow his teammates to be better, and his speed from the stoppage provides him with a weapon very few have. If he really harnesses that and irons out his kicking - likely through composure more so than execution - then watch out.
DRAFT RANGE: 15-30
Sam Butler is a forward/midfielder with a difference. He can play inside or outside, high or deep forward, and his traits lend themselves to any role he is given. Unlike many small forwards who hit the scoreboard regularly, Butler is not afraid to work hard and apply himself to contests he might never get a stat for, doing the team thing. As a whole, Butler looms as a value pick, likely in the second round, as it is more of making a few tweaks to the way he goes about it, rather than wholesale changes.
NAB League Boys