Nadal lookalike Hipwood aces rising star nomination
HE looks like tennis legend Rafael Nadal but Brisbane forward Eric Hipwood is smashing out a name for himself after winning the AFL's NAB Rising Star nomination for Round 5.
The 202cm-tall, 92kg key forward kicked three goals in Brisbane's gutsy loss to reigning premiers the Western Bulldogs last Saturday to continue his eye-catching form in 2017.
Hipwood was on track to kick more goals but a corked leg hampered his movement in the second half when the Bulldogs finished over the top of the Lions, who raced to a shock 38-point lead in the second term of Bob Murphy's 300-game milestone match.
The Maroon-grown 19-year-old is still eligible for the Rising Star gong after playing 10 games last season when he booted 11 goals, including eight majors in his first three outings at the top level.
He was unlucky not to receive a nomination in Rounds 14 or 16 last year when he kicked three and four goals respectively.
His fearlessness in marking contests and long-range left boot have quickly turned Hipwood into a Gabba favourite, having now amassed 20 goals in his 15 senior matches.
The Rising Star nomination is the latest box to be ticked by the former Caloundra Panthers junior on the pathway to becoming a major force in the competition.
He joined the Brisbane Lions Academy when he was 13 and was part of the elite AFL-AIS Academy before being selected in the Under-18 All-Australian side in 2015.
He was taken at pick No. 14 in the 2015 draft when Brisbane also recruited fellow key forward Josh Schache.
While Schache has attracted interest from clubs in his native Victoria, Hipwood is Queensland-bred after his family moved from Victoria to the Sunshine Coast when he was just three years old.
Hipwood extended his contract with Brisbane until the end of 2019 before he even played a If Brisbane can retain Schache, the towering twosome could form a lethal attacking combination for the Lions, who boast one of the youngest lists in the AFL.
Hipwood follows Sam Powell-Pepper (Port Adelaide), Ryan Burton (Hawthorn), Brandan Parfitt (Geelong) and Andrew McGrath (Essendon) as a 2017 Rising Star nominee.