When Eric Hipwood destroyed the Western Bulldogs in round 11 it created a predictable response.

His supporters saw the five goal performance as another step in his development while his detractors simply wondered why he doesn’t do it more often.

For some reason Hipwood polarises fans and commentators alike. Each group uses one set of numbers to back their opinion while ignoring another.

Hipwood booted 24 goals in 2020 which ranked 17th in the competition, level with former Coleman medallist Jeremy Cameron. His 24.19 tally pushed him into the top ten for shots on goal.

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Game Breaker: Eric Hipwood

Star Brisbane tall Eric Hipwood kicks a bag to help sink the Western Bulldogs.

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His accuracy was an issue this season but it unfairly masks the Sunshine Coast product’s undeniable progress as a key forward. Hipwood is just 23-years-of-age and has kicked 137 goals from his 94 matches. None of the key forwards around his age across the competition come close to comparing with that.

Big bags of goals are harder to come by than ever and his five against the Bulldogs was an elite performance bettered only by Coleman medallist Tom Hawkins and placegetters Josh Kennedy and Charlie Dixon among key forwards for the season.

His 10 marks against Gold Coast were a career high as were the 13 kicks against Hawthorn in round one. His 16 possessions in that game represented the second biggest tally of his career.

Hipwood also showed once again his durability playing in every single match for the Lions.