Josh Gibcus leaves the field on a stretcher during the match between Carlton and Richmond at the MCG on March 14, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

SCANS have confirmed rising Richmond defender Josh Gibcus has suffered a torn ACL in the Tigers' fighting five-point loss to Carlton on Thursday night.

The 20-year-old soared high to spoil a ball, landing heavily with a relatively straight leg, with his foot appearing to plant in the turf, and was stretchered off the field.

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Richmond footy boss Tim Livingstone said the entire club would rally around Gibcus throughout his rehabilitation.

"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," he said.

"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."


Wearing Alex Rance's old No.18, it was a scene eerily reminiscent of the champion Richmond defender's own torn ACL, also suffered against Carlton at the start of a season.

Gibcus played 18 games in his debut 2022 season after being selected with the No.9 pick in the 2021 AFL Draft, but missed the entirety of the 2023 season with a serious hamstring injury.

The Tigers finished the round one game with two fit players on the bench, after Dion Prestia was subbed out of the match at quarter-time with hamstring tightness, and Tylar Young suffered a concussion.

Kamdyn McIntosh and Noah Balta were moved to the backline in an attempt to combat the twin towers of Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay, leaving the forward line with one key forward – an underdone Tom Lynch – and Dustin Martin.


"I spoke to the boys around that, it's a good word, proud, and it's how we felt as coaches," Tigers coach Adem Yze said.

"We had players changing positions, changing roles, positions they hadn't played before, but for them to show some grit and stay in the game – we lost our way last week, and we spoke a lot around staying in the moment, what's important and staying in the game, and that was more around momentum. But this was more around structure and positioning. 

"But to their credit, we couldn't be more proud of our players. To lose two key defenders by half-time, let alone Dion, a leader of our footy club, and to respond the way they did and keep toiling away, we're super proud of them."

Yze described the Gibcus incident as "gut-wrenching" and said the Tigers were counting the cost of opting to play the injury-prone Prestia off a five-day turnaround.

"I'm not sure if it's the same side (as Prestia's injury last month), all I know is that he had a tight hammy and they'll go through the scans," Yze said.

"I feel for him. It was always a risk, with a five-day break. And to be fair, you talk about pride and being proud of performance, on the back of a five-day break, a hot day on the Gold Coast, to be able to sustain that performance for the whole night is part of the reason we were super proud of them. 

"But it's also part of the reason it was a little bit risky, even with Dylan Grimes (pre-season calf injury) – we were rapt he got through the game, but there's always this risk in playing some of our older players off a five-day break. But we'll live and learn."


Carlton coach Michael Voss was relieved to have got away with winning in an unconventional fashion for the side.

"We took out what positives there was in the game. We still feel like we're trying, like everybody, to get our system in really good shape. So we've got some parts of that we're trying to address more recently, to try and implement them against some good opposition. And then we've got some other things that are work in progress," Voss said.

"Some of those holes gave the opposition opportunities at times, and they were efficient – I'm probably speaking about stoppage, they were able to generate a pretty significant score from a source we do very well at defending and also get a lot of assertiveness and territory from.

"We were winning territory, we didn't have any trouble with that. The ball was living in our half, especially in the second quarter.

"That's an unusual profile for us. We've kicked nine goals from transition, we've won on the back of transition footy. Our strength has been on the back of contest and stoppage, and yet that's what we almost lost the game by. We nearly won the game on the other side of the ball.

"We activated a few things late in the game (e.g. Curnow to defence) to make sure it made it a bit harder for them to score. I thought they did a great job in being able to deny Richmond, and in the end, that was probably the difference in the game."