Draft Watch: Northern’s Patrick Lipinski
A mid-season shift from the Northern Knights’ forward line into the midfield saw Patrick Lipinski burst onto the radars of AFL clubs.
The 188cm Eltham product kicked 11 goals in his first six games of the TAC Cup season but soon drew on his basketball background to turn himself into a prolific tall on-baller.
Lipinski averaged 18 disposals per game in 12 matches for the Knights across 2016, but elevated that figure to 24 disposals per game in his last six appearances of the year.
taccup.com.au talked to Lipinski at the recent NAB AFL Draft Combine, where he recorded the equal-second-best score in the clean hands test and finished in the top 10 in the beep test.
How have you been selling yourself as a footballer to AFL clubs in interviews at the Combine?
“My strengths are probably my clean hands and composure, and contested marking for my size. I’ve also got an alright goal sense.”
What is the strangest question you’ve been asked by an AFL club?
“Probably to divide 217 by three or to spell ‘octopus’ backwards.”
What parts of your game do you know you’d need to work on if you were drafted?
“I’ve always been trying to work on my pace and my kicking, and probably getting some more uncontested ball on the outside because a lot of what I get is just contested.”
Which AFL players do you particularly like to watch and model your game on?
“Coaches told me to watch (Carlton’s) Patrick Cripps and (Western Bulldogs’) Marcus Bontempelli because they’re taller midfielders and I’m a bit taller for a midfielder, so I’ve been trying to watch them, take a few tips off them and emulate that in my game.”
How do you think your year turned out relative to your pre-season expectations?
“I wasn’t really expecting much this year. I just wanted to play every game and enjoy it and see if I could develop, and I think I have. It wasn’t until I got the invite to the national Combine when I thought I was a chance to get drafted. Since about July, I’ve really been having that goal to get drafted.”
How do you think you handled your change from being a forward to a midfielder this year?
“I was pretty surprised how I went with the change. I wasn’t expecting too much from myself, but I played a couple of good games as a midfielder and really enjoyed being in the contest and more involved in the game.”
How has your basketball background helped your football?
“My last basketball thing was at the end of last year – I went to America with my Eltham basketball side. I probably chose footy in September last year when I got invited to the Knights’ pre-season. It was tough, but I’d always loved footy more. I was always a bit of a smaller (basketball) player, so being around bigger bodies you have to be smart and composed in tight situations. I think that’s helped me with footy – when I moved into the midfield, I could make the right decision with handballs because I’m used to being in compact situations.”
What do you think was your best performance of the year individually?
“Probably against Western (in Round 9) in the wet (30 disposals, seven tackles, six clearances, five inside-50s). That was my second game in the midfield, so it was a good experience playing in the wet and getting involved in and under the packs.”
Which opponents caught your eye or were particularly difficult to play on this year?
“I was injured for about six weeks (mid-season) and my first game back was against North Ballarat (in Round 16) and I got thrown into the midfield and had to play on Willem Drew and Hugh McCluggage. They were probably the most difficult players I’ve played on, purely because of how hard they ran, and they ran to smart places.”
If you weren’t possibly going to become a full-time footballer, what would you be doing in life in the next few years?
“I was hoping to get into a commerce course, so I guess I’d be going to university and trying to get my degree.”
Who’s your tip for the no.1 NAB AFL Draft pick?
“Everyone’s saying (North Ballarat’s) Hugh McCluggage, so I’ll go with him.”
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