AFL premiership contenders Brisbane have had their worst fears realised with the Lions confirming an ACL rupture for ace forward Eric Hipwood.
The 23-year-old landed awkwardly after leaping for a mark during the first quarter of the Lions’ surprise defeat to St Kilda on Saturday night.
Brisbane medical staff were almost certain he had suffered the season-ending knee injury to his left knee but awaited the results of scans.
Hipwood will have surgery on Tuesday, putting him out for most of the 2022 season as well.
“This is very disappointing news for both Eric and the club, but we will rally around him and provide our full support to him,” Lions football manager Danny Daly said.
“He’ll require surgery and rehabilitation over the next 10-12 months and the club will provide all the help and support that he needs to get back out on the field.
“He’s in good spirits and he’s still got many years of footy ahead of him, and hopefully many more as a Lion.”
Hipwood’s absence leaves a huge hole in the Lions’ forward line having put together a strong season with 26 goals.
It means star recruit Joe Daniher and third-string tall forward Daniel McStay will now take on added responsibility.
Lions coach Chris Fagan flagged Tom Fullarton as a possible replacement in the forward line to combine with Daniher and McStay.
Brisbane (11-5) will need to regroup quickly before tackling Richmond at the MCG on Friday night as they seek to consolidate their position in the top-four.