Joe Daniher during the loss to Sydney in round one, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

THE SPOTLIGHT is about to shine on Joe Daniher.

Confirmation Eric Hipwood will miss the rest of the season after rupturing his ACL on Saturday night has put a dent in Brisbane's premiership credentials, but one it still has the firepower to overcome.

Although coach Chris Fagan has repeatedly, and correctly, pointed out his forward line is multi-dimensional and not reliant on any one individual, the key ingredient for the remainder of 2021 is Daniher.

He provides the class, the dynamism and the structure to a team already missing Cam Rayner with the same knee injury as Hipwood.

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Brisbane lured the high-flying Essendon tall forward north at the end of last season to help take it a step closer to a premiership, and the next two-plus months is his time to shine.

Daniher has had a strong first season for the Lions, playing all 16 games – in itself a triumph – and kicking 27 goals in his dual role as a forward and relief ruckman.

Hipwood might not be the biggest name on the list, but his 204cm frame leaves a giant hole.


Following Saturday's loss Fagan said the lanky forward's likely replacement would be Tom Fullarton or Connor Ballenden, but the latter suffered a suspected hamstring injury in the VFL.

Since introducing Oscar McInerney in 2018, Fagan has gone with three tall forwards at almost any cost, so there's no reason to doubt his suggestions here.

The Lions won't be throwing any curveballs by going smaller, ala Richmond of 2017.

Fullarton appears the best option to partner Daniher and Dan McStay. The former basketballer has played six career games, including four at the start of 2021 as McStay rehabilitated a knee injury.

Standing 200cm tall, not only is the 22-year-old a genuine marking threat and someone opponents need to respect, but just as importantly he can play as a back-up ruckman.

Tom Fullarton in action against Carlton in round two of the VFL season, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

This would change Daniher's role – perhaps for the better.

Since McStay returned in round five, Daniher has supported McInerney in the ruck, dragging him away from the forward 50 and getting him involved around stoppages and higher up the ground.

The former Bomber has done an excellent job floating between the roles, but he needs to play deeper for longer now.

Hipwood has been critical to Brisbane's structure this year, consistently crashing packs, bringing long kicks to ground and creating crubms for small forwards.

It's a role Daniher is perfectly suited to taking over.


Of course, it's too simplistic – and plain wrong - to say everything falls on his shoulders.

Charlie Cameron has kicked 30 goals, Zac Bailey 22, Linc McCarthy 21 and McStay 14.

There's enough talent and class within that list alone to take advantage of Brisbane's average of 55 inside 50s a game.

The Lions' midfield also kicks goals, led by skipper Dayne Zorko (13) and wingman Hugh McCluggage (10).

But Daniher playing closer to goal and dominating his match-up against the opposition's best defender might not only be enough to overcome Hipwood's loss, but catapult Brisbane towards its first premiership in 18 years.