Tigers back hard-luck Gibcus as long-term AFL player

Oliver Caffrey and Roger Vaughan |

Josh Gibcus of Richmond exits the field after being injured at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Josh Gibcus of Richmond exits the field after being injured at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Luckless Josh Gibcus has been reassured publicly that he is a “long-term” AFL player for Richmond after his new injury setback.

The Tigers defender needs a knee reconstruction that will sideline him for the rest of the season after he ruptured his right anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in Thursday night’s narrow loss to Carlton at the MCG.

New Richmond coach Adem Yze said post-match that the 20-year-old’s latest career stall is “gut-wrenching”.

But when the Tigers confirmed the worst on Friday, they also made it clear they are sticking by him.

“We are all incredibly disappointed for Josh. It is horrible luck after what he has already encountered on the injury front in his short career,” Tigers football performance manager Tim Livingstone said in the club statement.

“Josh battled through last year with his head up and had put in a mountain of work to get himself back to full fitness for this season.

“We view Josh as a long-term player for us and an important part of our future, so we will give him all the support he needs and help him throughout his road to returning in 2025.

“He is still so young and has a lot of football ahead of him after this setback. We know, the character and professional he is, that he will attack his rehab first-class and return stronger.”

A hamstring injury sidelined Gibcus for all of last season and Thursday night was his second game back.

Josh Gibcus.
Josh Gibcus lies in pain on the MCG turf after his injury against the Blues. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

But he fell awkwardly on the knee following a marking contest in the second term.

A distraught Gibcus left the field on a medical cart and was taken into Richmond’s rooms.

He follows Keidean Coleman (Brisbane Lions) and Sam Docherty (Carlton), who also suffered dreaded ACL injuries in last week’s opening round.

In his post-game media conference, Yze said the Tigers were “touching all the wood we can get” that the injury was not as bad as it is now confirmed.

Gibcus, a top-10 draft pick in 2021, has played 20 games since his 2022 debut.

Richmond fought bravely against the premiership-contending Blues, a big improvement on the Tigers’ 39-point defeat to Gold Coast last week that started the Yze era at Tigerland.

Gibcus was not the only fitness issue to come out of the match, with experienced midfielder Dion Prestia suffering a hamstring injury.

Dion Prestia is tackled by Matthew Kennedy.
Dion Prestia is tackled by Carlton’s Matthew Kennedy before his hamstring injury. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

Prestia has been cursed with soft-tissue injuries during his career, with Yze admitting they took a risk in playing him against Carlton.

Defender Tylar Young also failed to play out the second-half after failing a concussion test, placing him in the 12-day protocols.

Yze said: “I feel for (Prestia). It was always a risk with a five-day break. You talk about pride and being proud of the performance, on the back of a five-day break, a hot day on the Gold Coast, to be able to sustain that performance the whole night.”