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Titans forward Keegan Hipgrave.

Introducing the Gold Coast's laid back lunatic. He's a wild man on the field but off it, Keegan Hipgrave is more of a Zen Buddhist in search of inner peace.

The 22-year-old, who is set to return from a hamstring and lower back injury against Manly at Lottoland on Friday night, was suspended twice in his first three NRL games.

On the paddock he is easy to identify with his legs pumping 100 miles an hour. Off it he finds an equilibrium with skydiving, underwater breath-holding sessions, surfing and meditation – what he terms "all the things away from footy that contribute to slowing me down".  

His parents encouraged him to play plenty of sports as a youth and he always wanted to do his best, and be the best.

Going too hard and too often became an issue early in his career and that is why Hipgrave turned to what he calls "underwater breath-holding" to increase his lung volume and stamina.

"At the start of last year I was just 100 miles an hour. I wanted to do everything, but sometimes going 100 miles an hour isn't the best thing, so I toned it back and I've done a lot of breath-hold training underwater just for controlling my gas," he told

"Breath holding is building up your CO2 levels and I do most of it underwater. It is about holding your breath and controlling your heart rate.

"It is simulating game conditions where you are blowing and you've got to bring your heart rate down and not feel out of breath. I find that really beneficial."

Skydiving is another activity where Hipgrave has found his 'Nirvana' away from rugby league.

"It is something I always wanted to do when I was young and I got the chance to get into it a bit over a year ago," Hipgrave said.

"I have put the skydiving hold for a while just because I want to be more consistent and focus on my footy.

"I did 32 skydives in a year and a half. It is just the best feeling in the world. You switch off from everything and don't worry about anything that is going on in the outside world.

"Just before you step out of the plane, you look down with no worries. You are just focusing on that one action. It is a clear mind when you are falling."

Titans coach Garth Brennan doesn’t mind Hipgrave jumping out of planes but he did tell it may not be good for his career.

"If he jumps out of a plane and his parachute doesn't work I don’t think I'll be worrying about picking him next week, put it that way. He might be out for some time," Brennan chuckled.

"It is the guys that ride skateboards and scooters that I am more worried about than Keegan jumping out of a plane … although anyone that does jump out of a perfectly good plane has obviously got some screws loose.

Sea Eagles v Titans - Round 11

"Keegan is just a lovable larrikin. He plays the game aggressive and he plays it tough but he is not a cheap-shot merchant or someone who'd maliciously go out and hurt someone. He just gives it everything he's got. He's limited in size but what he lacks in size he makes up for in determination."

His determination to find life balance, his own 'yin and yang', continues to drive him.

"I’ve got my uni degree I am doing in management and economics through QUT in Brisbane. I get away from things with study and surfing.

"When I am not injured I try and get out as early as I can I usually up around 5am so I can be in the surf by 5.30am. It just gives you a clear head throughout the day and sets me up to have a great outlook on things.

"The meditation I do at the Titans is good for me, particularly with the visualisation stuff and mental replication of what you do in a game."

Hipgrave's competitive nature had an early genesis playing water polo against his older sister, Katie Hipgrave.

"She used to beat me up in the pool all the time," he grinned.

"Even surf lifesaving, when we were training we would race to see who could get out to the cone first and just little things like wrestling in the living room. We were always competitive."

Keeping a lid on that tendency to go too hard, too soon on the field starts on game day.

"I'm actually cruisy as on game-day because I don't need to get any more pumped up," he said.

"I'll meditate in the morning, cruise in and have a nap in the afternoon and then listen to cruisy music like Arctic Monkeys, Mumford & Sons, Florence and the Machine, carefully selected songs.

"As soon as I cross the line I'm definitely more aware of how aggressive I am. It's just in my nature," he said.

"All my coaches told me growing up to never lose that aggressive nature.

"On the football field, that's probably one of my greatest strengths, having that aggressiveness and add energy when I come on to lift the boys up."

With Hipgrave set to play his first game since round eight, Brennan is just happy to have him back for the trip to Manly.

"He's one we've just got to manage a little bit and be really conscious of his loads that he does throughout the week and how much game time he does play.

"It's not something that's going to be fixed, it's something that he's going to have with him for his whole career and that's something we've got to manage.

"But at the moment he's saying he's feeling the best he's ever felt."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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