The future is looking bright for the Brisbane Lions, with young stars Eric Hipwood and Cedric Cox committing to the Club until 2020.
With a lethal left boot, Hipwood has started to make his mark on the AFL competition in just his second season, while teammate Cox has shown promise in his debut year, with his blazing speed and silky skills.
The two players are integral to Brisbane’s push to become relevant in the AFL once more.
Hipwood had already signed on with the club until 2019 but decided to extend his contract for another year.
“It was pretty easy for me. It didn’t take too much,” Hipwood said.
“It just felt like David Noble and Chris Fagan, they’re the right men for the job. I felt like the Club was heading in the right direction and I wanted to be a part of it and it would be silly not to sign on.”
The 19-year-old has noticed the difference twelve months can make.
“We’ve had our ups and downs but I feel like we’ve improved a lot since last year," Hipwood said.
"You can just look at the quarters won and we’ve nearly won more than double since last year.”
Hipwood is thrilled that Cox will be alongside him in the long run, after he extended his contract for a further two years.
“Playing with Cedric, he’s pretty fun. He can kick on both feet and he’s exciting," Hipwood said.
"He’s certainly one to watch in the future and we can’t wait to watch him develop and watch him grow as a player."
Cox, originally hails from Halls Creek in WA’s Kimberley region. He says the decision to stay in Brisbane was easy as it’s now his home.
“I just love this place, love the Club. Love the people around it. It’s the reason why I signed,” Cox said.
The transition has been surprisingly smooth, amazingly, considering his closest family and friends are more than 4,000 kilometres away.
“I know it’s not a home environment for me but it takes people around it to make it feel like home,” Cox said.
“The reason why I signed is that I love my teammates and everyone around them.
"I just love this Club and the support everyone gives me. It will be great to spend a few more years with the boys.”
The difference has been the inclusiveness he’s felt since arriving in Queensland.
From the moment he landed, Lions Senior player Mitch Robinson and his partner Emma literally left their door open for him, with Cox living with them.
“I give credit to Mitch and Emma for taking me in,” Cox said.
“I was really glad that an experienced player and someone that I knew back home took me in. They made me feel at home, especially with their kids.”
Robinson, with a wealth of AFL games to his name, showed Cox the ropes in his first year at the Club and taught him important lessons in punctuality and organisation.
His new teammates embraced him from the moment he walked through the door.
Cox says he’s never experienced anything like it, even when he moved to Victoria as a teenager to pursue his AFL dream.
“Off field there are a lot of activities, like groups and that amongst us boys. You never used to get that in Melbourne,” Cox said.
The acceptance has had a trickle effect for Cox.
He trusts his teammates; his confidence has grown and with that, he’s starting to come out of his shell.
“I was a shy kid … but now I’m starting to get the hang of it and get amongst the boys and stuff like that,” Cox said.
Cox’s dream one day is to taste premiership success with his teammates and for the Lions to become a team feared by all opposition.