FORMER St Kilda forward Stephen Milne will play in the Bendigo Football League next year after signing with Strathfieldsaye.
The Storm confirmed the signing of 33-year-old Milne on Friday in a massive recruiting coup for not only the club, but for the BFL, which has been rocked in recent weeks by an exodus of top-line players.
Milne played 275 AFL games for the Saints and kicked 574 goals before retiring last month.
"It's a big signing for the club and going to be really good for us," Storm co-coach Darryl Wilson said on Friday.
"It's really exciting for us and the league, given what has happened with some players leaving. Hopefully, this is something that can help get the Bendigo footy league back on the map."
Wilson said Milne had turned down a number of lucrative offers from clubs to sign with the Storm, who were beaten in this year's grand final by Golden Square by 21 points.
"There were a few clubs chasing him... we'll pay him like all players, but it's just really exciting for the club and the community," Wilson said.
While Milne, who will be based in Melbourne, has signed with the Storm for next year, his availability to play could depend on the result of rape charges stemming from an alleged incident in 2004.
"We haven't got any comment on that. That's something that will take its course and hopefully, it all goes well for him," Wilson said.
Milne - a four-time St Kilda leading goalkicker and dual All-Australian - is on holiday in Thailand, but will be back for when the Storm begin their pre-season training.
"He'll be at our first session. We haven't decided yet when that will be, but he will be up and about and involved in the community as well," Wilson said.
"And that's the good thing - he's committed to not only football, but being a part of the community when he's up here."