BRISBANE coach Chris Fagan had no hesitation bringing Eric Hipwood straight back into his senior team, saying the absence of Joe Daniher and Dan McStay had no bearing on the decision.
Hipwood ruptured his ACL last July and has been selected to play against Adelaide on Saturday night, just over 10 months since his injury.
Speaking before the Lions departed Brisbane on Friday morning, Fagan said Hipwood had been ready to go for the past month and would get more out of playing seniors than the alternative of a VFL practice match against Gold Coast.
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"He's a bona fide AFL player, so where do you get your match practice, in the seniors or the reserves?" Fagan said.
"It doesn't matter, so we thought we'd put him straight in.
"If people are worried about risk and those sorts of things, they shouldn't be.
"He could have played a month ago. We've been very cautious with him. He wanted to play a month ago, so we think now's the right time."
The decision could have been complicated by recent injuries to fellow tall forwards Daniher (shoulder) and McStay (ankle), but Fagan said it played no part.
He said Jack Payne was a solid inclusion last week and that Darcy Fort and Oscar McInerney had proven good targets as the resting ruckmen so far this season.
Fagan said there was no pressure on Hipwood to come in and dominate.
"He's a professional anyway," Fagan said.
"He knows how to play and he knows our system, so there's not much need for instruction - just go and play your game, mate.
"Having not played since July last year, he's going to be a little short of match practice no doubt, but we'll manage him well over the next few weeks and I think within a month he'll be back to the Eric we know."