Hipwood ready to take game to next level
Lanky Lions left-footer Eric Hipwood has never had any trouble growing.
At 203cm tall and 90kg, the former Caloundra junior is the physical prototype for the modern-day AFL key forward with the athleticism and skill that prompted Lions legend Alastair Lynch to describe him as a potential "match winner".
The 22-year-old is looking to expand on a different set of numbers in 2020 by continuing his development as a bankable goalkicking option for Brisbane.
No team that relies on their small forwards doing most of the heavy lifting prospers in the long-term.
So Brisbane cannot expect livewire Charlie Cameron to shoulder the majority of the scoring load after his 57-goal, All-Australian season in 2019.
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Ahead of this Saturday's clash with Fremantle at the Gabba, Hipwood is eager to build on the very solid and occasionally spectacular foundation of 76 senior games for 113 goals since making his senior debut in 2016.
Hipwood tallied 35 goals in 2019 - including a career-best haul of six against Port Adelaide in Round 3 - along with six Brownlow Medal votes and selection in the AFLPA's 22under22 team for the third-straight year.
"If you want to be a good AFL player, you've got to keep evolving your game. If you become complacent in your role, you get overtaken by your opposition and your own teammates,'' Hipwood said.
"Fages (senior coach Chris Fagan) has always been big on improving each day you come into the club so I'm really keen to become the best player that I can be."
While Cameron was the standout forward for Brisbane in 2019, Hipwood said the Lions' marksmen were always working towards a more collaborative approach inside the attacking 50.
"It's a luxury at the moment to have guys like Cam Rayner, Linc McCarthy, Dan McStay, Allen Christensen and Charlie who can combine to be a really damaging forward line,'' he said.
"We have to have a defensive mindset as well but the offence is what comes naturally. We have to put pressure on each other to improve individually and as a forward line so that we can become the best team we can be.''
Hipwood says he was "gifted" some senior games early in his career by then senior coach Justin Leppitsch but was forever grateful for the opportunity.
"It (the 76 senior games) gives me some confidence. We are not an overly experienced forward line so we are improving and growing as a group the more games we play together,'' he said.
"I was extremely fortunate that I came into the side when the club was rebuilding and I was in the right age bracket to get a few games when I probably shouldn't have. But I've enjoyed every single one.''
Originally published as Hipwood ready to take game to next level