Hipgrave takes unders to stay loyal to Gold Coast
Gold Coast "loose cannon" Keegan Hipgrave has accepted less money than he could have earned at several Sydney clubs to stay loyal to the Titans and take a place in what is shaping at one of the best packs in the Telstra Premiership next year.
Despite having made only 14 NRL appearances and having some on-field discipline issues, the 21-year-old was in strong demand with Cronulla one of a few Sydney clubs chasing his signature with zest.
Aggressive and full-paced on the field, his off-field bent to also stretch the boundaries is reflected in his love of sky-diving which sees him studying for his instructor's licence. Yet he remains a respectful young man and passionate local and that led to him staying on the Gold Coast for another two years.
He will take his place in a 2018 Titans pack that will include 122kg giant Shannon Boyd, a Test player; Queensland reps in Jai Arrow and Jarrod Wallace; Blues player-in-waiting Ryan James; experienced Kiwi second-rower Kevin Proctor; 2017 Blues Origin hooker Nathan Peats and impressive 18-year-old prop Moeaki Fotuaika.
"I'm really happy Keegan is staying; he brings energy, he brings enthusiasm," said coach Garth Brennan.
"He's a little bit of a loose cannon as well.
"When you look at what he does away from the football field, he's studying to be a sky-diving instructor … I think anyone who jumps out of a perfectly good plane on a regular basis certainly has some issues.
"He's a local too. That's the big one for me. He loves the place.
"He epitomises what I want here at the Gold Coast, players love playing with him and he's a really good guy on top of that."
Hipgrave, who missed last Sunday's loss against the Roosters because of concussion suffered the week before, has been cleared to return to the back row against the Knights at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday.
With Arrow also certain to play, the Titans take a stronger side to Newcastle where they face a Knights outfit rejuvenated by the return of Mitchell Pearce to a side that had been struggling before their win against Parramatta, primarily on the back of his influence.