Developing tall defender Josh Gibcus, who Richmond selected with pick No. 9 in the 2021 NAB AFL Draft, emerged this year to be included in the Australian U18 Academy team. ran the following story on Gibcus in late October, as he prepared for the Draft...

JOSH Gibcus was born in Brisbane and spent the first seven years of his life in Queensland, where he started Auskick and first got his hands on a footy. His family then moved to Perth for his father's work, where he was based for his next seven years, including making the West Australian under-12s state side.

When he was 14, the Gibcus family moved to Ballarat, where the teenager's path to the AFL took shape and where he has developed into one of the leading prospects in this year's NAB AFL Draft and the best key defender available.

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2021 AFL Draft: Gibcus highlights

Watch the best highlights from Pick 9 of the 2021 NAB AFL Draft, Josh Gibcus

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Where Gibcus ends up next is most exciting. Early in 2022, his parents are planning to move back to Perth and by then Gibcus will be on an AFL list – somewhere. Be it Sydney, Victoria or Western Australia, the teenager knows his upbringing will hold him in good stead for his next move.

"I don't mind where I go. I've travelled around a fair bit which I think has helped me and I can understand how moving works. I'll just take the opportunity as it comes and whoever picks me on draft night I'll go and give it everything I've got," he told

"Moving to new places has meant I've had to adapt and moving to new school meant I have had to make a whole bunch of new friends. It's helped quite a bit looking ahead and if I did have to move at the end of the year it wouldn't be too much of a problem."

Gibcus' rise into top-five considerations begun early this year, with the intercept key defender starting his season in impressive form for the Greater Western Victoria Rebels.

It was recognised and saw him added to the NAB AFL Academy side to take on Geelong's VFL team in April, and although the Academy was trounced, Gibcus showed some of his aerial exploits by backing himself with some strong marks. He is a key defender who attacks: at 196cm he is confident to play off his opponent when he can and also adept at shutting someone down.

"My vertical leap and intercept marking are some of the biggest strengths of my game. Reading the ball is something I've always prided my game on, and I always thought if I could improve on that as much as possible it could become a real weapon for me," he said.

"I model my game off Harris Andrews at Brisbane and Jake Lever at Melbourne. I like that they can read the ball really well and know when they should come off their man, they're both really great intercept markers who don't like to lose."

In another season hit by COVID-19 interruptions, following last year's strikeout in Victoria, Gibcus has worked hard to maintain his edge. He was assigned a running coach who worked with him on his technique and also hit the gym for extra sessions to ensure when he was back on the field he had made the most of his break.

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2021 AFL Draft: Pick 9 Josh Gibcus

With Pick 9 in the 2021 AFL Draft, Richmond have selected Josh Gibcus.

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His athleticism was on show at the recent NAB AFL Draft Combine for Vic Country prospects in Bendigo. Gibcus topped the group for the running vertical jump with a leap of 89cm, although circumstances worked against him.

Due to the inclement weather conditions and COVID-19 protocols forcing the testing outside, Gibcus jumped higher than the top of the yardstick device, which couldn't be pushed any taller. He had been aiming for 97cm, having earlier this year jumped 95cm, but clubs were already well aware of his traits.

"I was hoping to go for quite a bit bigger than the 89cm but it wasn't to be," he said.