AFL: Sunshine Coast AFL star Eric Hipwood is gearing up for a big 2018 as he and the Brisbane Lions enjoy an exciting off-season period.
Hipwood and fellow Rising Star nominee Harris Andrews were named in the league's 22under22 upon season's end, while the club selected Cameron Rayner with Pick 1 in the National Draft in late November.
The Lions also welcomed four-time Hawthorn premiership player Luke Hodge to the fold during October's trade week, along with 2017 grand finalist and Adelaide Crows livewire Charlie Cameron.
The 20-year-old said the addition of league legend Hodge was "fantastic" for morale as the young Lions look to build on their foundations next season.
"Along with everything else, Hodgey is just a great bloke," Hipwood said.
"He's obviously very knowledgeable and has a lot of experiences to draw from that successful background, and he's also very genuine and easy to approach.
"He's going to be a great presence to have for the young guys and the experienced players too.
"He really gives us a lot of hope that we're on the right track."
Hipwood said the two younger arrivals had also been "really positive" for the overall environment at the club.
"Charlie comes from another successful background at Adelaide, so he has a lot to offer the group too," he said.
"He's a great character, loves having a joke with the boys.
"He (Rayner) has been very impressive around the club since he's got here.
"He's talented, skilful and driven to succeed, so it's definitely exciting to have that type of player come in."
Hipwood, a key forward standing at 202cm, became one of the highlight players in the competition last year, known for his ability to kick goals from long distances and use his uncanny blend of speed and agility to beat bulkier defenders.
Despite being picked in the 22under22 team, in addition to his Round 5 nomination for the league's Rising Star award, he said he was "not the type of player" to focus on his own achievements.
"I haven't really reflected on any of it," he said.
"My mentality is very much team-oriented.
"I just want to keep trying to improve so we can get better as a unit.
"I guess it's nice to know I'm doing things right once in a while, but I probably won't look at any of the individual stuff properly until my career's done."
As the Lions look ahead to an off-season training camp in Tasmania for a second straight year, the return of injured veterans Mitch Robinson, Allen Christensen and Tom Bell add further depth the club needs to continue progressing next season.
Though former Number 2 pick Josh Schache and midfield veteran Tom Rockliff departed for the Western Bulldogs and Port Adelaide respectively, the club's new additions give plenty for fans to be excited about it.
While Hipwood admitted that it was exciting for the players too, he said "keeping a level head" was of major importance as the journey continues.
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