HIGH FLYER: Former Hawthorn AFL player Rhan Hooper is hoping to help the Ipswich Eagles rise to new heights in coming seasons.
HIGH FLYER: Former Hawthorn AFL player Rhan Hooper is hoping to help the Ipswich Eagles rise to new heights in coming seasons. JOE CASTROAAP

AFL recruit to boost Ipswich

THE Ipswich Eagles have received a massive boost by securing former AFL footballer Rhan Hooper as player/coach for the next three years.

Hooper, 26, is returning to the Eagles after starting his career with the Limestone Park-based club.

After being recruited to the AFL, the Ipswich junior went on to play 48 matches for the Brisbane Lions and six games for Hawthorn.

Having played the past two seasons with Springwood, Hooper is excited to be returning to familiar territory.

"I'm pretty stoked actually,'' Hooper said.

"It's a new coaching role, playing as well.''

Ipswich Eagles club president Andrew Thompson was thrilled with the latest appointment.

"His AFL experience will be invaluable both on and off the field for us,'' Thompson said.

"He's got plenty of ties to Ipswich and we think he will be an important person to take the senior team into the future.''

Churchill-based Hooper will reunite with former Eagles teammates - tireless captain Luke Konstanciak and the club's spiritual leader Chris Devlin.

Hooper's cousin Billy North is also expected to play, having returned to the Eagles this year after a stint in the Northern Territory.

"He (Billy) put the word to them that I might be keen to coach and it must have got back to Andrew (Thompson),'' Hooper said. "And it all went from there.''

During his time with the Lions and Hawthorn, Hooper was a versatile and exciting player, booting 56 goals in his four-year AFL career.

Hooper attended Bundamba State Secondary College while growing up in Ipswich.

His previous stint was as a premiership player with Springwood in this year's QFA South competition.

"I never really thought of myself as a coach but playing at Springwood, I had a bit of input as well with structures and some game plans,'' the indigenous footballer said.

"With the knowledge that I've got, I really wanted to take that one step further and applied for the senior coaching role.''

Having played under Leigh Matthews, Michael Voss and Alastair Clarkson, Hooper said he has a good base to draw from.

"With the top level footy, there's a lot of strategy you kind of have to do, like individual players,'' he said.

"Hopefully I can bring some of that in.

"I've already organised a camera so we can watch replays of the games so we can pick out stuff that we've done wrong, where we can go forward.''

Thompson said the acquisition of Hooper would help the Eagles with their expansion plans, hoping to increase their senior program involvement from two to four teams.

"The appointment of Hooper is a catalyst for that,'' Thompson said.

The Eagles pre-season starts on November 4.


Rush supports 'IDEAL' decision for Club

EAGLES stalwart Mick Rush is delighted to see Rhan Hooper accepting a player/coaching role at the club that launched his career.

Rush is happy to let Hooper take the club forward having coached him in 2004 and 2005 before he was picked up by the Lions in 2006.

"It's an ideal scenario for the club,'' Rush said, having coached the senior team the past two seasons after a long stint as mentor last decade.

"I was happy to stand aside if he comes in. It's a good result for the club to get someone of that calibre player-wise into the club.''

Rush mentored the Eagles in more than 130 games, guiding them to grand finals in the mid 2000s.

This year, he oversaw a revamped team that also played finals footy.

Although busy with a growing business, Rush said he'd still cheer on the Eagles at every opportunity.

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