VETERAN St Kilda defender Nathan Brown may have played his last game after deciding to leave the club's Noosa hub to return to Victoria.
The 31-year-old played at least 15 games in his first three seasons at the Saints, after crossing from Collingwood, but hasn't made a senior appearance in 2020.
Brown signed a one-year deal after last year's Telstra AFL Trade Period but St Kilda has preferred Jake Carlisle, Callum Wilkie and recruit Dougal Howard in the key defensive posts this year.
Saints coach Brett Ratten said Brown's decision came with the club's blessing.
"Footy is a big part of their life but it's not their life – families are – and he wanted to be around his family and his girls and he's a star of our footy club," Ratten said.
"He's such a good person and that was his desire. We've said, 'No worries, mate, if you need to do that for yourself, that's fine', so he's headed home.
"He'll be on the messages and we'll get him on Zoom and he'll still play a big part this year."
The Saints' chief operating officer Simon Lethlean said Brown was a respected member of the squad and "the spiritual leader of the connection, culture and standards" at the club.
Lethlean said Brown's contribution would be recognised appropriately if he had played his final match for St Kilda.
Brown was originally a top-10 pick in the 2006 NAB AFL Draft and was part of the Magpies' drought-busting 2010 premiership.
He played 130 times for Collingwood and 53 at the Saints. Brown's twin brother, Mitch, made 94 appearances for West Coast.
Meanwhile, Ratten went into bat against critics of high-profile pair Bradley Hill and Seb Ross, whose form has been scrutinised ahead of Saturday night's clash with top side Port Adelaide.
"Everyone looks at the stats and how everyone's going, but 'Hilly' I feel is just about to break a game open – he's not far off it," Ratten said.
"His running numbers were very high last week and he was a bit stiff not to get the ball a few times when he was in really good positions, so I think he's about to … have a breakout game.
"Seb's done some really important roles for us this year and people haven't actually acknowledged that … some of the criticism is a little bit harsh."
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Former Power players-turned-Saints Dougal Howard and Paddy Ryder will face their old side but Ratten said the call was made to give Dan Hannebery (hamstring) another week to recover.
He didn't expect St Kilda to be one of the two clubs that will be based in the mini-hub in Cairns during the next block of the fixture after round 12.