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Important Saints duo locked in for two more

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 22: Tom Hickey of the Saints in action during the 2016 AFL Round 09 match between the St Kilda Saints and the Essendon Bombers at Etihad Stadium on May 22, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
Tom Hickey has signed a new contract with the Saints

ST KILDA has locked away ruckman Tom Hickey and rugged midfielder Luke Dunstan to contract extensions.

The pair both had this season to run on their existing deals, but have put pen to paper on two-year extensions tying them to the club until at least the end of 2019.

Hickey's re-signing comes hot on the heels of a career-best season, when he played 20 games and nailed down the club's No.1 ruck spot.

Despite pressure from his mum to return to Queensland, the 25-year-old former Sun was keen to be part of the Saints' push to play finals.

"We're a young group and we're on the improve. I love this club and want to stay here and help us get success," Hickey told saints.com.au.

"I've been here since we were at the bottom and I'm loving the rise that we're having and hopefully it can continue.

"Mum wanted me to come home pretty bad, but I'm pretty well settled down here, I've got my girlfriend down here and I've been down here for five years now and got I really good group of mates."

South Australian onballer Dunstan has also turned his back on a potential move home after playing an important role in the Saints' climb to ninth on the ladder last season.

The 22-year-old averaged 17 disposals from 18 games in 2016, before being forced to undergo his second shoulder reconstruction in three years – but this time to his opposite (left) shoulder.

"It’s been going really well. I did a similar off-season running program to what Tim Membrey did last year and I feel like I’ve got a really good base under myself now," the 2013 first-round draft pick said.

"(Endurance) is probably the one side of my game that needs the most improvement.

"I’ve just been chipping away at it year after year and I’m slowly getting there. I feel like I made some really good inroads this pre-season."

St Kilda's chief operation officer Ameet Bains was confident Hickey and Dunstan have plenty of improvement left in them.

"With his athleticism, his endurance and his ability to play forward we think (Hickey) has the tools to enter the upper echelon (of ruckmen) and that’s what we really hope for with him," Bains said.

"Luke has made a really impressive start to his AFL career. He has quickly established himself as an important member of midfield with his grunt work inside and his durability seeing him play over 50 games already.

"We hope he remains an integral part of our midfield around the contest and that he continues to grow offensively too."