ONE OF the key planks in the Brisbane Lions' future is the round five NAB AFL Rising Star nominee.
Eric Hipwood is fast becoming one of the best young players in the competition, and a three-goal first half against the Western Bulldogs on Saturday put him in the running to be this year's Rising Star.
The 19-year-old Lions academy product was the No.14 pick in the 2015 NAB AFL National Draft, with the Queensland club matching Richmond's bid.
Hipwood has made big strides early in his second season, with his pack-crashing marks a highlight.
"It's just my competitiveness," he said.
"I just can't stand losing, I hate it.
"I take it back to when I was a kid, it could be anything, riding your bike, who was quicker. I hate losing."
Hipwood, who is 202cm tall, booted a combined seven goals across just his second and third AFL games in rounds 14 and 15 last year to announce himself as a top-line talent.
He was on target to eclipse his career-best haul of four majors at the weekend until a corked leg intervened and the Bulldogs stormed back from a 38-point deficit to win by 32 points.
The key forward has kicked 20 goals in his 15 matches to date.
Hipwood was born in Melbourne, but moved to the Sunshine Coast with his family when he was three years old.
He played junior football for Caloundra, as well as playing soccer and rugby. He joined the Lions' academy when he was 13 and was a Queensland representative standout.
Hipwood said he built his game around not being beaten in one-on-one contests and looked up to Gold Coast star Tom Lynch.
Australian Rules wasn't always his sport of choice though, with the Sunshine Coast product excelling at cricket in his junior years.
Hipwood said selection in the Lions academy gave him the belief he could make it in the AFL.
"When I was 12 years old I was just playing school footy, I wasn't taking it too seriously, I was trying to play every sport under the sun, and being part of that academy is something that attracted me to the sport," he said.
"I didn't start focusing until I was 16 or 17.
"I got picked in the AIS (academy) when I was 16 and it was a big shock to me.
"I never thought I'd be able to make it until I made the AIS AFL Academy team."