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Ratten aims to lift St Kilda to finals heights

Football

Newly appointed St Kilda coach Brett Ratten is bullish about leading the AFL club from the doldrums.

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Ratten is the third caretaker coach this year to win the top job and has set his sights on returning the Saints to the finals for the first time since 2011.

“How quickly can you jump?” Ratten told reporters on Friday.

“There has been teams that have jumped from 13th, 14th and got themselves into grand finals.

“We’re not saying that it’s just going to happen overnight. But that is our aim.

“We haven’t played finals in a while so our first step will be let’s make finals and see what we can do.”

Ratten has signed a three-year contract at the Saints, who finished 14th this season.

He follows North Melbourne’s Rhyce Shaw and Carlton’s David Teague as caretaker coaches who are now in the chair for next season.

But unlike Shaw and Teague, who made their senior coaching debuts this year, Ratten was an old hand when he took over from Alan Richardson for the last six rounds.

Ratten coached Carlton to the finals from 2009-11 before being controversially sacked in 2012.

He was then an assistant at Hawthorn during their 2013-15 premiership three-peat and joined the Saints this year.

“To get back in that (head coach) chair that I have been trying to get back to for a long time, it has been seven years,” Ratten said.

“But I’m really excited about our list and where the club is heading and it’s a great opportunity for me.

“We need to get more success at this footy club.

“And when preseason starts we will be pushing really hard as a coaching group and also as a playing list to make sure that we do that.”

After replacing the departed Richardson, Ratten led the Saints to three wins in their last six games.

“We were able to evaluate Brett across six weeks as interim coach and through the opportunities he had to present to the panel,” St Kilda president Andrew Bassat said in a statement.

“At every stage, he gave us great confidence that he is the right person to lead our football program.

“We know as a football club we have to lift in a number of areas to achieve the consistency required to play finals football … Brett is the right person to lead our coaching group in driving that improvement.”

Ratten’s appointment leaves Fremantle as the sole club without a coach, following last month’s sacking of Ross Lyon.

Collingwood assistant coach Justin Longmuir is favoured to take over at the Dockers but any announcement will be delayed until after the Magpies’ finals campaign, which begins with a qualifying final against Geelong on Friday night.

-AAP

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