ST KILDA recruit Brad Crouch put himself before his new Saints teammates on their return to January training in order to address his off-season drug indiscretion and win their immediate trust.

Crouch will be suspended for the first two games of the season after he was caught with an illicit substance in his final weeks as an Adelaide player in September.

While senior Saints were consulted before the 27-year-old's free agency arrival, coach Brett Ratten said it was important Crouch cleared the air with the entire cohort. 

"He had a chat to the group fairly early when he got back after Christmas," Ratten told

"It builds a connection straight away. Brad's accountable to that as well which is pretty important. And it shows respect for the football club straight away. 

"Players acknowledge people make blues, no one's perfect. Everyone tries their best and at times it doesn't go to plan. 

"He put his hand up, said I made a blue, spoke about it and people acknowledge that.

"Now we can help and support him … whether it's Brad's issue or an injury, we need to be around our people."

Brad Crouch takes time out for a photograph at RSEA Park on January 15, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Crouch has been eased into full training at his new home with the Saints keen to learn more about his soft-tissue history before letting him loose. 

LOCK HIM IN Top Fantasy option from your club

"He's had some injuries through his career, it's not so much going super conservative with him but it's more around us knowing his body," Ratten said. 

"There's been parts where we've said, 'Hey, sit out of this part and we'll do something else' and we risk manage him that way. 

03:19 Mins
Published on

Get excited: Watch the best highlights of Brad Crouch

Enjoy the standout moments from the midfielder's career so far

Published on

"The year before when we had Hill, Jones and all these blokes, you're trying to find that synergy between the rucks and him working with Steele, Ross and Jones but he's fitted in really well. 

"You can look at his performance (and think), he did pretty well, then go back and count his numbers on the tape and think, 'Oh, he's actually had a heap of the footy'. 

HORROR INJURY Tough Saint could miss 12 months 

"He's a best and fairest and winner (2018) … like [Dan] Hannebery, we'll be a better team with him out there."

Ratten also indicated Jack Higgins would rotate between half-forward and midfield this year with the Richmond signing among the best in the Saints' intraclub on Thursday.