Brisbane forward Eric Hipwood trains at the Gabba. Picture: AAP
Brisbane forward Eric Hipwood trains at the Gabba. Picture: AAP

Hipwood wants to be a loyal Lion

Brisbane has locked down key forward Eric Hipwood on a lucrative deal that will keep the 21-year-old at the Gabba until the end of 2023.

Already contracted for the 2020 season, Hipwood this week put pen to paper for a further three years in a deal estimated to be worth around $2 million.

Brisbane will be thrilled to secure the youngster's signature ahead of the club's qualifying final clash with Richmond with Hipwood happily affirming his long-term commitment on Monday.

 

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"I didn't even look at any other options," Hipwood said.

"I've got my family really close on the Sunshine Coast and it's a great support network.

"I'm extremely fortunate to be in that position so when they came to me with that offer I was pretty quick to sign it.

"We're an exciting bunch and we're all a similar age so the sky's the limit for us."

Hipwood joins fellow youngsters Alex Witherden and Jarrod Berry in signing long-term extensions in a year that has exceeded both club and individual expectations.

 

Eric Hipwood has recommitted to the Lions until 2023. Picture: AAP
Eric Hipwood has recommitted to the Lions until 2023. Picture: AAP

 

 

Hipwood's six-goal haul against Port Adelaide in Round 3 remains his largest personal tally to date and a blistering four-goal term against Melbourne in Round 15 showcased his ability to turn games quickly.

With 32 goals this season, Hipwood was a lock for selection in the AFL's under-22 side and firms as the club's long-term tall forward.

Lions football manager David Noble identified Hipwood as a key signing to ensure the club's sustained success.

"He has been crucial to our growth in the forward line over the past three seasons and is a strong team contributor, with a team-player attitude to match," Noble said.

That team-oriented focus has been vital to Brisbane's forward unit in 2019.

Hipwood's ability to bring the ball down is invaluable, with the likes of Charlie Cameron and Lincoln McCarthy scoring largely from contested possessions at ground level.

 

 

Re-signed Lions forward Eric Hipwood has kicked 32 goals this season. Picture: Getty Images
Re-signed Lions forward Eric Hipwood has kicked 32 goals this season. Picture: Getty Images

 

On Saturday, Brisbane will rely heavily on this skill-set with the Lions eager to avoid a repeat of their last-round encounter with Richmond.

The Tigers defence, led by All-Australian duo Dylan Grimes and Bachar Houli, wreaked havoc, picking off intercept marks with ease before transitioning back upfield and hitting chief goalscorers Jack Riewoldt and Tom Lynch.

Hipwood is eager to make amends for the loss by contesting more fiercely and freeing up Cameron - Brisbane's own All-Australian scoring weapon.

"We probably didn't help Charlie enough to be honest (against Richmond)," Hipwood said.

"The beauty of our forward line is if you shut down one player, another player's going to pop up.

"We have to do those little things like blocks. We probably didn't help him out enough.

"We've got to be able to shut that down and our pressure has got to be extremely high."

 

ROBINSON HAPPY TO WING IT

Brisbane's return to September footy means the world to Mitch Robinson but the Lions' enforcer might not have even made the journey without a word from the man who's had the most profound impact on his career.

Under pressure to retain his midfield role in 2019 after Brisbane's signings of Lachie Neale and Jarryd Lyons, Robinson revealed a pre-season sit-down with coach Chris Fagan prompted his transition on to the wing.

"He's got that teaching background, which gets touched upon a fair bit, but he's got this ability to talk to everyone in the list, from the youngest to the oldest players," Robinson said.

"So when at the start of the year he sat me down and talked about what my future looks like within the team, and what role I could make for myself out on the wing, it made me feel wanted in the team and it made me feel useful.

"He really sells those things to you. Regardless of whether I was going to play wing or not, it really gave me motivation going into the pre-season."

 

Mitch Robinson has thrived in his new role on the wing. Picture: AAP
Mitch Robinson has thrived in his new role on the wing. Picture: AAP

 

Robinson has grown into the unfamiliar role - extra mileage included - and said he would happily play anywhere for the club that has given him "everything".

"It's an unrewarding role at times with all the running you've got to do, but when you're getting all the wins that we've been getting you just enjoy playing your role," he said.

"Fages is good like that. He gives you a pat you on the back if needed and, if you've done something wrong, he'll give you a kick up the ass as well."