IN THE same week Brisbane lost Joe Daniher to injury, fellow tall forward Eric Hipwood has been setting the training track alight as he pushes to return from a ruptured ACL.
Now, with the big forward’s return imminent, Brownlow medallist Lachie Neale says his teammate has been turning heads at Brisbane training.
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“I’ve seen him come back and be the same Eric Hipwood he was 12 months ago on the training track,” Neale said on Thursday.
“There was a match sim we did, about 10 minutes’ worth, probably two weeks ago and he was playing in the reserves side against the AFL side, and he dominated.
“He’s looking good, he’s looking sharp.
“I’m not sure if he comes straight in or has to play a little bit of VFL first, but it’s exciting for the club and Eric.
“I can’t wait to have him back.”
Coach Chris Fagan recently said Hipwood would return in round nine, but Neale said the 23-year-old had cheekily pushed his name forward this week after news Daniher would miss at least a month with a shoulder injury.
“He feels like he’s ready to go,” Neale said.
“I don’t think he’ll play this week, but you never know.”
Brisbane has multiple options to cover Daniher’s absence for Saturday night’s home match against West Coast at the Gabba.
Young key forward Tom Fullarton has been tried before, Jack Payne played there in last year’s semi-final against the Western Bulldogs before being concussed, and there’s also the option of playing another smaller forward.
“I don’t have any idea who is going to play for him,” Neale said.
“It’s unfortunate for Joe, he’s been in such good form … at least it’s short to medium-term, rather than a long-term injury.
“I’ve got full faith whoever comes into the side.”