Former Magpie Nathan Brown will join the Saints next season.
Former Magpie Nathan Brown will join the Saints next season. JULIAN SMITH

Former Pie the latest to join rapidly rebuilding Saints

AFL: Look for the Saints to go marching back into the finals next season.

Having already made considerable strides in 2016 when finishing just outside the top eight, St Kilda will attempt to follow in the footsteps of fellow former league battler the Bulldogs.

Two years after finishing bottom, the Saints' rebuild continues to take shape through draftees and recruits, the latest being Collingwood premiership defender Nathan Brown.

The 27-year-old is to join the club as a free agent, after playing 130 games with the Magpies, and comes after his twin brother Mitch Brown made a failed attempt to be traded to St Kilda from West Coast in 2014.

"His ability to hold down a key defensive post makes him an attractive prospect for where our list is currently placed,” St Kilda chief operating officer Ameet Bains said of Nathan Brown.

"In addition to his experience and leadership on the field, Nathan is a terrific person off the field and we look forward to him joining our ranks.”

Brown could debut for the Saints in round one next season alongside fellow key defender Jake Carlisle after he was brought in from Essendon at the end of 2015, but then forced to serve his 12-month suspension over the supplements saga.

Throw in young Hugh Goddard and the Saints look strong down back after years of Sam Fisher, Sam Gilbert and Sean Dempster trying to hold things together.

The Saints were laughed at a couple of years ago when they unveiled their bold 2020 vision to win their second flag by the end of the decade.

They are now set up with GWS midfielder Jack Steele joining the likes of three-time best and fairest Jack Steven, the experienced David Armitage and rising stars Jack Newnes and Seb Ross, while fringe Bulldog Koby Stevens has also signalled his intent to shift.

The attack already includes 2014 No.1 draft pick Paddy McCartin and Sydney rejects Tim Membrey (Swans) and Josh Bruce (Giants), not to mention champion Nick Riewoldt.

There is also a whisper they may make a play for Fremantle superstar Nat Fyfe next season when his contract expires after they acquired a second first-round draft pick for 2017 from Hawthorn as a potential bargaining chip.

Brown's move, meanwhile, has left Collingwood short in defence, with Jack Frost heading to Brisbane and Jonathan Marsh returning home to WA for personal reasons.

The twist could be Mitch Brown becoming a Pie after the Eagles approved his request to move back home to Melbourne.

TERRY MALLINDER



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