Hipwood scores finals goal after Lions' climb
FOR Brisbane Lions forward Eric Hipwood, September has never been a time for holidays.
And this year he has finally got the perfect excuse to delay any trips away.
"I have never made plans for then," the 21-year-old Caloundra product said ahead of his first AFL final - next Saturday's qualifying final against Richmond at the Gabba.
"I hate being on holidays in September, it's not great and I am very jealous of the teams that have had sustained success and are able to play in finals.
"I want to be playing in September. I have been to watch a few finals in previous years and I have always wanted to be a part of it."
The Lions finished the regular season second on the ladder behind Geelong, on percentage after 16 wins and six losses.
Brisbane notched just five wins under coach Chris Fagan the previous season after picking up the wooden spoon in 2017.
Hipwood, who made his debut with the Lions in 2016 after being drafted in 2015, said there were numerous reasons for the improvement this campaign but high on the list is Fagan not allowing his players to get too far ahead of themselves.
"The reason why we were flying under the radar a little bit is because how poor we have been in previous years," Hipwood said.
"To be honest, we don't look at the end results too much and we just worry about our processes.
"I think when you look too far into the future ... that's when you start to get ahead of yourself and I think that's when you start going backwards as well.
"We have been taking it one week at a time and I guess it's been working for us and we won't be looking any further than Richmond next week."
The Lions went on a nine-game winning streak after the bye in round 13.
That run was ended by Richmond in the final home-and-away clash of the season with the Tigers running out 27-point winners at the MCG.
While the result was disappointing, Hipwood said the team had learnt a great deal from it and the one-point win over premiers Geelong the previous week.
"Those games were a good dress rehearsal (for finals)," he said. "To be able to play in those games it has fast-tracked us a lot.
"To be able to play them at the MCG as well has been fantastic.
"But that is just a start and just a taste of what finals football has to come.
"It's going to be a big step up come next week and beyond."
Brisbane started slowly against the Tigers with Jack Riewoldt kicking five majors as Richmond raced out to a 25-point lead by the end of the first quarter.
The Lions then closed to within seven points before Richmond kicked away again.
Hipwood warned the Lions would need to improve their opening when the two sides meet next week.
"Their start was extremely important for them," he said.
"They went up by 25 points and we ended up losing by 27, so it's about starting well and it comes down to each individual playing their role.
"It does sound pretty basic but it's all about the whole team being on the same page and it's as simple as that."