Footy career taking on Eric proportions

Eric Hipwood starring for the Queensland under-18s at the national championships in Geelong this year. Photo: Getty Images.
Eric Hipwood starring for the Queensland under-18s at the national championships in Geelong this year. Photo: Getty Images.

Rising star Eric Hipwood has been hot property in the lead-up to tonight's National Draft in Adelaide.

Discussing his footballing background with media outlets from around the country, it's understandably taken the reserved 18-year-old from the Sunshine Coast some getting used to.

"I've noticed I'm not the best with the media," he told APN yesterday.

"I actually said that in one of the AFL meetings. They asked me what I hate most about the AFL. I said probably the media's getting a bit hectic at the moment.

"They said I'd better get used to that because it's only going to ramp up when I get drafted."

And being sounded out by footy writers does mean Hipwood's career is on an upward trajectory.

The Caloundra Panthers product will be drafted tonight, and unless there is a major shock, will be selected by the Brisbane Lions.

The club he has been a part of since he was 12 via its academy has stocked up on second-round draft picks - Nos. 38, 39, 40 and 41 - in order to collect enough points to thwart any rival bid to gain the services of both he and fellow academy product Ben Keays.

Adelaide, for instance, is believed to have offered its pick 12 for Hipwood.

"It has been a bit confusing … knowing what points are allocated to what," he says of the new father-son and academy bidding system in place this year.

"The Lions have got a lot of points and I'm hoping I can end up there. But, anything can happen on the night."

Eric Hipwood playing for Queensland.
Eric Hipwood playing for Queensland.

Just like probable No.2 pick Josh Schache, Hipwood is just what the Lions need. He's 200cm, can run like the wind, take a strong mark and can play at either end.

At the 2015 national U18 championships he averaged more disposals (21) than any other defender and was the No.1 interceptor, but also showed his class up forward, taking six marks and kicking four goals in three quarters of football against Tasmania.

Also a member of the AIS-AFL Academy squad that featured the top 35 underage players from around the country,

Hipwood was part of a visit to the highly regarded IMG Academy in Florida in January to use its elite training facilities.

It seemed a world away for a promising Aussie rules player but "that's when I really hit my straps … thought I could compete at the elite level," he explained.

"There was one training session where I started to take contested marks against some good key defenders and that gave me a little bit more confidence. I took that into the year of footy."

As well as an exceptional U18 titles campaign, that year of footy included impressive displays in the NEAFL for both the Lions reserves and Aspley after impressing in his first senior season with Caloundra in the QFA competition in 2014.

"When I went into the state under-18 program I had to be aligned to a NEAFL club, and Aspley was the closest one and had a lot of family that had been there," he said.

That family included dad Brad, a former player, and grandad Kenneth, who helped form the club.

"My nanna (Flora) and granddad are life members at Aspley," he said.

"They've got their picture on the wall, and every time I go out to dinner with them at the club they show me it."

Hipwood was born in St Kilda and like his parents Brad and Leanne, who were married at Moorabbin Oval, barracked for the Saints growing up and idolised Nick Riewoldt.

"My parents were mad St Kilda supporters," he says.

But, he's had a soft spot for the Lions since the family moved to the Sunshine Coast when he was three and is more than happy to become another key plank in their rebuild. The countdown to that occurring is in its final stages.

"I'm pretty laid back at the moment," he said. "But it'll probably hit me a couple of hours out from the draft."

Then there will be more media commitments.

 

Eric Hipwood during the recent AFL Combine in Melbourne. Photo: Getty Images
Eric Hipwood during the recent AFL Combine in Melbourne. Photo: Getty Images

 

Sunshine Coast product ready to shine

Rising star Eric Hipwood will join an exclusive club tonight when his name is read out at the AFL's National Draft at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

The 18-year-old who spent six seasons playing with the Caloundra Panthers will be the latest Sunshine Coast product to join the elite level.

If all goes according to plan, the Lions Academy graduate will be selected by Brisbane and join the only other player from the area, Jonothan Freeman (from Noosa).

He will follow in the footsteps of recent former players Alik Magin (Pomona to Gold Coast), Sam Reid (Caloundra to Bulldogs/GWS) and Josh Drummond (Maroochydore to Brisbane).

The athletic key position player learnt his craft at the now defunct Chancellor Park, near where he grew up, before later joining Caloundra, where his father Brad is now president.


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