Brisbane Lions manager Chris Fagan has said Eric Hipwood does not need to return after 10 months away via the VFL.
Lions manager Chris Fagan says the absence of great strikers Joe Daniher and Dan McStay had no bearing on the decision to bring in-form giant Eric Hipwood straight into Brisbane’s top 22 rather than via a comes out in the VFL.
Ten months after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, Hipwood will return to the AFL on Saturday night when the in-form Lions take on the Crows at Adelaide Oval.
It looks like the perfect time for Hipwood to return, with his 203cm presence set to prove crucial in a Brisbane forward line that has lost Daniher (shoulder) and McStay (ankle) in the past two weeks.
However, Fagan was adamant that it was still the Lions’ plan for Hipwood to not only return to AFL level this weekend – without a move to the Brisbane reserve team – regardless of injuries to others. players.
“He had been ready for two or three weeks but we held him back – he was still going to play this weekend,” the Lions manager said.
“He’s a genuine AFL player. Whether you get your match training as senior or reserve, it doesn’t matter, so we thought we’d put it straight in.
“If people are worried about risk and all those sorts of things, they shouldn’t be. H could have played a month ago.
“We were very careful with Eric. He wanted to play a month ago, so we think it’s the right time.
“We’ll handle him well over the next few weeks, and I think within a month he’ll be back to the Eric we know.”
The Lions adopted a similar easing period for Cam Rayner, who returned to the first round this year after missing all of last season with an ACL injury.
“(Hipwood) is a professional anyway, he knows how to play, he knows our systems and our structure, so there’s not too much need for instructions – just go out and play your game,” he said. Fagan said.
The Lions are aiming for an eighth victory in nine matches this season this weekend.
The Crows have won just three of eight and are eyeing a third straight loss, but Fagan promised complacency would not be a problem for his side.
“They (the Crows) have their crowd there, which definitely helps them,” Fagan said.
“They are very capable and they would be confident in their chances, I imagine, and they would be looking to bounce back from a few weeks of form that they wouldn’t be too happy with.”