Palm Beach Currumbin High School product, Keegan Hipgrave started with just one NRL game to his name but would soon become an NRL regular under new Head Coach Garth Brennan.
The 21-year-old made 19 appearences in 2018 spending the early rounds coming off the bench in the front-row, averaging less than 30 minutes per game and struggling with game management and ill-discipline.
Round 11 saw Coach Brennan promote Hipgrave to the starting side, switching him from the middle to an edge where he wanted him to play more minutes, but in doing so, he wanted the Nerang junior to learn his trade as a back-rower. In round 19, the power house forward was rewarded with his first 80 minute match, playing on the left edge.
"Yeah if I wanted to play second row I had to learn, obviously it requires more minutes, so I couldn't go 100 miles an hour and that's probably what I was prone to doing when I was coming off the bench," Hipgrave said.
"I just wanted to do everything and lift the energy of the game which I did, but I would also gas out pretty quickly, so I've ended up finding the line, I just had to slow down and do my own job."
Renowned for his aggression, passion and wearing his heart on his sleeve, Hipgrave became the first player since Michael Buetner in 2002 to be sin binned twice in the one game for separate infringements, but the local product spent the final 10 rounds learning to play with controlled aggression.
"Yeah that's what I want to bring to the team, 100%. I think earlier on in the year I was just trying to find the line and I think I found it a couple of times with a couple of suspensions but as the year progressed I found my feet and I was a lot more comfortable."
Hipgrave admits nerves were getting the better of him in the early rounds but as the season went on he learnt to deal with them, and his aggression.
"I wasn't as nervous and I wasn't trying to go 100 miles an hour, I was just trying to do my job and obviously I've got that aggression in me and I think its imbedded in me but I think moving forward I'm going to work on being a consistent NRL player.
"It's good I've ended up finding the line where I can come into the game but I can also come back out of the game, I think I found that in the end."