JOSH Gibcus is used to packing up his life and moving somewhere new. He spent the first seven years of his life in Brisbane. Then the family moved to Perth for the next seven years, before they headed to Ballarat. Now Gibcus' parents are back in Western Australia, while he is in Melbourne, living in an apartment owned by his new senior coach Damien Hardwick.

Football has always been central to Gibcus' life in different states. He started Auskick in Queensland, played as a key forward in the WA under-12s at the opposite end of the ground to Jye Amiss – who was taken with the pick before him last November – before moving into defence during his time at St Patrick's College and Greater Western Victoria Rebels.

The 19-year-old is accustomed to adjusting seamlessly to new environments and that’s what has happened at Punt Road. Gibcus has slotted into Richmond's backline in a manner that makes it look like he has been part of the furniture for five years, not five minutes.

Gibcus looked set to earn a Rising Star nomination in round six when he recorded 18 disposals, 12 marks and seven rebound 50s against Melbourne, but then Collingwood goalsneak Jack Ginnivan bobbed up and kicked five goals on Anzac Day.

Ben Brown gets a handball away under pressure from Josh Gibcus during round six, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

It will only be a matter of time before he gets the nod. Right now, the kid that has allegiances to three different states is learning how to fend for himself at home and learning how to play in front of 70,000 people like he did for the second time on the weekend.

"I have moved a fair bit throughout the course of my life. From Brisbane to WA, WA to Melbourne. I saw it as a positive that I have that experience and I have moved around a fair bit, so I know what to expect and know what challenges come with that," Gibcus told after Saturday night's Dreamtime win over Essendon at the MCG.

"To be able to do that and having my parents move back to WA was a little bit easier on me because I knew exactly what was going to happen and keep being myself in the club. Now I'm currently living with the head coach. He has an apartment which is good. It has been great for me moving from Ballarat."

Richmond supporters have quickly fallen for the 196cm key defender. But before the Tigers pounced at pick No.9 in the 2021 NAB AFL Draft, Richmond recruiting manager Matthew Clarke gave little away to Gibcus and his family.

Josh Gibcus poses for a photo with his family ahead of his debut for Richmond during round one, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

The Tigers had tracked Gibcus since the under-16s carnival in Queensland when he moved from attack into defence. They spoke to him at the start of last year in a 10-minute speed dating session during a camp. Then twice more via Zoom during the season, before Clarke visited Gibcus at his family home in Ballarat a week before they read out his name.

Clarke and the recruiting department inside the Swinburne Centre had done their work behind the scenes, visiting his school and talking to those around Gibcus. The Tigers have never been a club that tells potential draftees of their plans – unless that player is named Dustin Martin – but they were confident he was made of the right stuff. 

"Actually, it was a funny one. I actually didn’t know they were going to pick me. They had an interview with me a week before the draft with Matty Clarke and he gave absolutely nothing away," Gibcus said.

"I think they decided to keep their cards pretty close to their chest. When I was picked up by Richmond, it was a bit of a surprise. Going back and looking at it, it was a great thing that I was picked up by them."

Josh Gibcus in action during round two, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

After missing the round nine win over Hawthorn due to entering the AFL's health and safety protocols, Gibcus came straight back into the 22 for Saturday night's clash against the Bombers, alongside off-season signing Robbie Tarrant.

"It was a little bit frustrating, but you can't do much about testing positive for COVID," he said.

"It was bound to happen at some point. I got some equipment into where I live and just tried to keep up with my fitness and my strength and all that. I got through it and was able to play this week, which was a positive."

PLAY AFL FANTASY Make your trades NOW

Richmond's backline no longer contains David Astbury and has been without Alex Rance for some time, but it is still built around Dylan Grimes and Nick Vlastuin, with Nathan Broad also an integral part. Now it includes a teenage sensation who won't be going anywhere.

"You look up to them as a kid, but I guess playing out there, they are really supportive. We are a close backline group. We have good connection. Coming in they gave me a lot of help, a lot of mentoring to help me adjust coming from NAB League to the AFL," he said.

"It is a dream come true. Growing up one of the biggest things you want to do is play on the big stage with all the other players. I've had to adjust what I'm eating, how much sleep I'm getting and all the training I'm doing to keep my body fit and ready for the next game that comes up."

Jack Darling and Josh Gibcus contest for a mark during round seven, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Gibcus pulled up sorer than usual this week after having the week off, but he has become accustomed to the rhythm of the week in the AFL, placing a greater emphasis on recovery than ever before to ensure he is fresh heading into each weekend.

He knows others are banging on the door for an opportunity from below and doesn’t feel like his spot is anywhere near a certainty, even if some do. Now that he has had a taste of AFL football, he wants more. Much more.

"I'm always competing for my spot," he said. "There is the likes of Biggie Nyuon and Ben Miller and the other players that can come in. I've got to keep on my toes and keep getting better with my craft, keep improving my game to be able to hold down that spot. Hopefully I will be able to keep that spot for the rest of the year and moving forward as well."

After living here, there, and everywhere, Richmond Football Club is now home for Gibcus.