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Butler backs Mitchell to prove fitness

Rhys Dickinson  April 19, 2017 2:45 PM

AFL 2017 Round 04 - West Coast v Sydney

Sam Butler says history will have no bearing on West Coast's performance this Sunday

Veteran defender Sam Butler doesn’t expect the club’s history at the MCG to weigh heavily on the Eagles this Sunday.

It has been more than 11 years since West Coast last beat Hawthorn at the MCG and the club has only managed five wins from its past 23 trips to the home of football.

“Players have short memories. You have a bad loss and you try to forget it by mid-week; you move on and go to the next game,” Butler told TAB Radio.

“Hopefully we are not overanalysing too much of our history, because … it’s a different group and we are in a different space. We will approach it like we have approached every game this year.”

However, Butler believed recent history might motivate the playing group ahead of its clash with the struggling Hawks.

The 31-year-old conceded the club’s 2015 Grand Final defeat still stung, as did the team’s heavy round two, 2016 loss to Alastair Clarkson’s men.

He said it was in the group’s best interest not to forget but learn from those experiences.

“The grand final is the one. There are going to be some scars for the boys,” he said.

“We played Hawthorn the year after and they did the same thing to us.

“The sights and sounds are going to be similar at the MCG playing against Hawthorn, so it’s going to come up in the boys’ minds. It’s how they deal with it and how they react that matters.”

Butler hoped former Hawk Sam Mitchell would be available to take on his old club.

Mitchell will need to prove his fitness later in the week after suffering a nasty ankle injury during the Eagles’ 26-point triumph over Sydney last Thursday.

The 2006 premiership winner said his teammate was making a quicker than expected recovery from the injury, which appeared dire at the time of the incident and post-game.

“It looked like he was going to be out for three years the way he was carrying on,” Butler joked.

“But yesterday he was walking around pretty comfortably and looked pretty good. I’d give him a 50-50 chance.

“He’s obviously still got some pain in there and a bit of swelling, but what that does for the rest of the week we don’t know. He’s a bit of a war horse.”