Pat Lipinski celebrates a goal during Collingwood's clash against Port Adelaide in round six, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

TWO SHOULDER reconstructions in five months. That was the equation Pat Lipinski had to overcome to become a premiership player last year.

The 25-year-old started last season with his arm in a sling after dislocating his shoulder in Collingwood's final practice match against Hawthorn in Launceston. 

Lipinski had just fully recovered from his first reconstruction at that point of the pre-season when he did his shoulder again at University of Tasmania Stadium.  

He put his head down in rehab and got back to work ahead of schedule for the King's Birthday fixture against Melbourne in round 13, playing the final 14 games of the season, including all three finals at the MCG. 

After finishing fifth in the Copeland Trophy in his first year at the club in 2022, Lipinski struggled to replicate that form after returning from surgery mid-season. 

But he hung in, executing a role for Craig McRae to finish the season with a medallion hanging around his neck, after starting the Grand Final as the sub before replacing Nathan Murphy at quarter-time in the four-point win over Brisbane

Patrick Lipinski (R) and Mason Cox celebrate after the 2023 Grand Final between Collingwood and Brisbane at the MCG on September 30, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

"It was really tough. I spent a lot of time last year in rehab and running on the sidelines. (I had to do) so many extra weights sessions just trying to build my strength back up. When you do the first one you lose a lot of strength then build up and almost get it back and do it again, so my strength wasn't there, it was down a lot," Lipinski told after the win over Port Adelaide. 

"It was a challenging year on that front, but it all worked out in the end, winning the flag. I wasn't playing my best footy at the level I played the year before, but I was playing my role as best I could. 

"Now I can build nicely into this year and feel good again. The last off-season I was in the gym a lot and eating a lot trying to put on the weight again and get the strength back through my upper body."


Lipinski grew up dreaming about winning a premiership for the Western Bulldogs. You've seen the photo from the 2016 Grand Final, weeks before he was drafted to the Whitten Oval. He achieved that goal last year, albeit in different colours. 

Within a week of that game, Lipinski boarded a flight bound for Europe and spent a month travelling through Italy, Spain, England, Switzerland, France and the Netherlands. But by the time he landed back in Melbourne, he was preparing to go all the way again. 

"It was amazing to complete your childhood dream. That probably first couple of weeks you feel great, but then you get back to training and you just want to do it again," he said. 

"You probably get noticed a bit more in day-to-day life in Melbourne but I remember I was in Europe a week later and no one gives a crap about you. It is awesome being a premiership player. No one can ever take that away from you for all 23 involved. Now we want to do it again."

Lipinski made a strong start to the year in the Opening Round loss to Greater Western Sydney and has been moved around a bit across the first six games of the season. On Saturday, the Northern Knights product played predominantly across half-forward, kicking a career-high four goals against the Power.  


"I change role every week to be honest," he said. "I can be quite flexible. I played wing last week. This week I played forward with a bit of mid late. I just play wherever they put me, but probably more forward this year."

After starting the season 0-3, history is against Collingwood in 2024. No reigning premier has recovered from a winless first three games to go back-to-back since North Melbourne did it in 1975. The Magpies are now 3-3 after interstate wins against Brisbane at the Gabba and Hawthorn during Gather Round, ahead of Saturday's 42-point victory over the Power. 

"I think the belief was always there, we just needed to get that first win on the board. We played some good footy in those early rounds for a quarter or two. Even (against Port), we played three good quarters and we've done that the last three weeks, so we are working towards having a complete performance but it is heading in the right direction," he said.