Fagan wants Hipwood, Rayner to back up against Saints

Shayne Hope |

Brisbane’s Cam Rayner (left) and Eric Hipwood seem to have rediscovered their goalkicking form.
Brisbane’s Cam Rayner (left) and Eric Hipwood seem to have rediscovered their goalkicking form.

Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan has seen glimpses from important forwards Eric Hipwood and Cam Rayner this season – now he wants consistency.

Much like their team, the pair of potential match-winners have endured mixed fortunes throughout the 2024 AFL campaign.

But there are signs they could rediscover their best as the Lions (5-6-1) fight to claw back lost ground in the battle for a finals berth.

Hipwood was particularly impressive in last round’s 43-point thumping of the Western Bulldogs, kicking an equal career-best six goals, and shapes as a key figure in Friday night’s clash with St Kilda at the Gabba.

“It never hurts you to play a good game,” Fagan said.

“Confidence is never a bad thing, as long as it doesn’t turn into over-confidence, and I’m pretty sure that won’t be the case with Eric.

“He just played with a lot of energy last week and competed for every ball that came into his area.

“It was a pretty simple approach that he had.”

Hipwood was the most prolific of Brisbane’s nine goalkickers against the Bulldogs as they spread the load and posted their highest score of the season – 17.12 (114).

The triple-figure tally was a throwback to last year, when the Lions were the second-highest-scoring team in the competition.

“We don’t need (Hipwood) to kick six goals,” Fagan said.

“It’s great that he did, but we’re looking for an overall contribution from all our forwards, which over the past five or six years we’ve usually got.”

Rayner was also on the scoresheet against the Bulldogs, kicking one goal from 18 disposals in a promising display.

The 2017 No.1 draft pick kicked a season-high three goals in his most recent outing at the Gabba – a thumping of Richmond in round 10 – and looms as another key figure against St Kilda.

“Cam’s ability to get to contests is the key thing,” Fagan said.

“Once he’s there he’s hard to stop if he gets his hands on the footy.

“He had a quiet game against Hawthorn, but he was pretty good against Richmond up here, so two of his last three have been good.

“Hopefully he can start to string some games together, and I know he’s keen to do that.”

Brisbane (5-6-1) sit in 13th place, six points outside the top eight, and are desperate for a win over St Kilda that would keep their finals flame flickering.

The Lions have won the past four meetings between the two sides and six of the past seven, including all three at the Gabba during that period.