BRISBANE coach Chris Fagan has confirmed a likely ACL injury for young forward Eric Hipwood, describing it as a "savage blow" for the Lions.
Hipwood was assisted from Metricon Stadium in the opening quarter of Saturday night's 32-point loss to St Kilda holding his left knee after landing awkwardly in a marking contest.
>> WATCH THE INCIDENT IN THE PLAYER ABOVE
Fagan confirmed the worst fears in his post-match press conference.
"The medical staff believe it's an ACL injury," he said.
"That's unfortunate, it's the worst.
"That's a pretty savage blow to Eric and the club at this point in the season, he's a pretty important player for us.
"We'll have to lick our wounds on that one."
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Hipwood would be the second Lion to suffer the fate of an ACL injury if scans confirm the diagnosis, following former No.1 draft pick Cam Rayner's at the same ground against the Gold Coast during the pre-season.
Hipwood's absence would leave a 204cm hole in Brisbane's forward line, with Fagan saying youngsters Connor Ballenden or Tom Fullarton his likely replacement.
The 23-year-old has kicked 26 goals in 15 games this year and formed a nice combination with Joe Daniher and Dan McStay.
"It'll be challenging, but those two boys have been waiting in the wings for some time now, so they'll look forward to that challenge and they'll respond to it.
"I'm so disappointed for Eric because he puts a lot of time and effort into his football, but I'm also excited for those boys who have been working hard behind the scenes to get an opportunity.
"Everybody has injuries, you've just got to deal with them."
Fagan said defenders Brandon Starcevich (neck) and Jack Payne (head) were both expected to be fine after final-quarter bumps.
Brisbane was soundly beaten, although Fagan said he would not be over-reacting ahead of Friday night's match against Richmond at the MCG.
"I feel like we played poorly in round one (against Sydney) and I feel like we played poorly tonight, which is round 17, and in between we've been very very competitive," he said.
"They've always been able to bounce back after disappointment, and that's what we'll be looking forward to doing next week."
St Kilda coach Brett Ratten said it was his team's best win of 2021, praising its ability to pressure the Lions and force turnovers in the middle of the ground.
He was particularly pleased with young Saints Max King (who kicked three goals from 10 marks), Tom Highmore, Leon Connolly and Ryan Byrnes, who all contributed strongly.
"Against a quality opposition that Brisbane are, I think it was our best performance so far this year," he said.
St Kilda has now won three games on the trot and sit outside the top eight on percentage alone midway through the round.
Ratten said the round 14 bye following their heartbreaking loss to Adelaide came at just the right time.
"It allows you to reset, take a breath, come back and really work out what we want to be as a football team," he said.
"It was about us as a team and what wanted to do.
"Consistency is the key now … we’ve had a really chequered first half of the year.
"Even games that we’ve won, we've had lapses. We are just going to keep chipping away. That's the reality for us, we are going to keep plugging away."