Lions players Harris Andrews, Dane Zorko and Eric Hipwood are keen to be meaner in 2021. Picture: (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt
Lions players Harris Andrews, Dane Zorko and Eric Hipwood are keen to be meaner in 2021. Picture: (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt

How Daniher, Hipwood will form lethal partnership

Lions forward Eric Hipwood made it an objective of his to work on his goalkicking over the pre-season but it's been the addition of star recruit Joe Daniher which has sparked a renewed sense of confidence.

Questions have been raised over the combination of both Hipwood and Daniher and how they will work together in the Lions forward line.

Both stand at more than 200cm, both are left-footers and both are handy goal kickers but according to their teammates, that's where the similarities end.

"They're somewhat different players," Lions All-Australian defender Harris Andrews said.

"Hippy roams around the ground and uses his athleticism and then his role is to probably kick the ball inside 50 to Joe.

"Joe is just such an imposing figure up forward.

"If we can get those two guys working together, then there aren't many defences that can deal with two, even three with Dan McStay, big boys.

"They're not the 200cm forwards where if the ball is in the air and hits the deck they're useless.

"These boys actually go hard and get the ball and put the pressure on."

The Lions practice matches against the Suns - as well as their intra-club matches - have highlighted the dangerous threat both these talls pose up front.

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Brisbane coach Chris Fagan's game plan is set to release Hipwood further up the ground while Daniher will play a role closer to goal.

During their practice match against the Gold Coast earlier this month, Daniher kicked 4.3 from eight shots at goal while Hipwood booted four majors as well.

It comes after a season where Hipwood kicked 24 goals in 19 games - below his 2019 rate of 35 goals in 23 matches.

And it's why the 23-year-old made goal kicking practice his number one priority over the off-season.

"I've gotten fitter and a little bit stronger and I've worked really, really hard on my goalkicking," Hipwood said.

"That's been my objective over the pre-season, just improving on that.

"At the moment, I'm going really well with it all.

"I've changed my routine a little bit but you can't replicate match day pressure so until the real stuff happens, it doesn't mean much at the moment."

He may be fitter and stronger but Hipwood also revealed how Daniher's arrival had instilled plenty of belief in the young Lions pack.

Both players have trained alongside each other in every single pre-season session and Hipwood said the former Essendon tall had given his new teammates a confidence boost leading into this season.

"He just gives us a lot of confidence," he said.

"He's done everything in terms of individual accolades - things like an All-Australian, a club champion.

 

Daniher and Hipwood run laps together at Brisbane training. Picture: Tara Croser
Daniher and Hipwood run laps together at Brisbane training. Picture: Tara Croser

 

"But it's also the little things he does, I've taken them and put them into my own game.

"I've learnt a lot from him and it gives me a lot of confidence that I'm doing all the right things.

"He instils some belief into the group."

As a small forward, Lincoln McCarthy said the Hipwood-Daniher alliance up front was a force to be reckoned with.

"Whilst they're both really tall, left-footers, they are still quite different in the way they play the game," McCarthy said.

"They've complemented each other and complemented our group really well.

"They've both shown they can hit the scoreboard in the last couple of weeks.

"As a small forward, it's great."

Meanwhile, Lions skipper Dayne Zorko said Daniher's influence on the team was as much off the field as it was on it.

"He's the sort of person that when he talks, everyone listens," Zorko said.

"He doesn't say a lot but when he does it has so much meaning and power behind it.

"He's getting more comfortable talking out more which has been great.

"He's really starting to take ownership of that forward line and that's probably an area where we haven't had a lot of leadership in previous years.

"I have a lot of belief and confidence that what I have seen from Joe so far is certainly going to help the growth of the leadership department in the forward line."

 

Lions defender Harris Andrews says the club has adopted a more aggressive mindset. Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images
Lions defender Harris Andrews says the club has adopted a more aggressive mindset. Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

 

LIONS PACT: WE WANT TEAMS TO FEAR US

The Brisbane Lions pack have hit back at suggestions they lack the ruthlessness to go to the next level, revealing how they've adopted a more aggressive mindset leading into the 2021 season.

A sentiment shared among former AFL hardmen Paul Chapman and Jordan Lewis, as well as Fox Footy's David King, found the Brisbane squad lacked a "nastiness" to become true premiership contenders.

Comparisons were made between the Lions of today and the Richmond, Hawthorn and Geelong sides at their prime in recent years.

However, Brisbane's All-Australian defender Harris Andrews hit back at those claims, revealing the squad was working on becoming more aggressive footballers.

"You look at (former AFL and Brisbane great) Luke Hodge, one of the most respected players in the league, but there weren't many fan bases outside of the Hawks who liked him," Andrews said.

 

"He was just so ruthless out on the field and we're certainly looking to bring a more aggressive mindset this year with the way we play and things we do during a game.

"We worked on that a little bit over the summer and we want to put that into play."

Brisbane forward Lincoln McCarthy said they wanted to become a team which opposition players feared.

"If we were thinking of anything, that could be a nice mindset shift for us," McCarthy said.

"Without being arrogant footballers, we want to have a presence and almost be feared a little bit.

"It's just part of the sport psychology.

"We want to put ourselves in the best position and we'll be doing everything we can so that teams don't want to verse us."

Brisbane's historic qualifying final win over Richmond last year was evident a hard-style mentality worked in the Lions favour and could be used as a "remember that night" moment.

Lions young gun Cam Rayner stares down Richmond captain Trent Cotchin in the 2020 AFL qualifying final. Photo: Michael Klein
Lions young gun Cam Rayner stares down Richmond captain Trent Cotchin in the 2020 AFL qualifying final. Photo: Michael Klein

However, Andrews admitted it was the heartbreak of their subsequent match - their preliminary final loss to Geelong - which fuelled the fire for 2021.

"You look at Geelong, and we talked about it before the game, they had been in four or five preliminary finals and had never made it through to the grand final," Andrews said.

"So clearly they had a lot of heartbreak.

"We're going to try and do a similar thing, by using our own heartbreak as motivation.

"The way they performed that night, they had a lot of experienced bodies who had played a lot of footy together and we feel like we're building towards that.

"We need to continually improve that ruthlessness like the really good teams have."

Originally published as How Daniher, Hipwood will form lethal partnership


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