Armed with their first top-10 pick since selecting Nick Vlaustin in 2012, the Tigers have made a promising start to the 2021 AFL Draft selecting a pair of Vic Country defenders who are keen to continue to build on their connection they have developed as juniors.
The Greater Western Victoria Rebels key defender Josh Gibcus was selected with the ninth pick, while Murray Bushrangers general defender Tom Brown was taken at 17 overall.
The pair have played together for Vic Country since their under-16s days and have already fostered a bond they hope will serve them well early in their AFL careers.
“I’ve known Gibbo for about three years now in footy,” Brown said at a press conference on Thursday.
“I started off as a forward, but coming down back with Gibbo, especially this year, he has helped out a lot and I have learnt a bit off him so I can’t wait to keep that connection moving forward.”
Despite their connection, the pair had no idea that they would be starting their budding AFL careers together.
Even though Richmond recruiters had recently paid a visit to Gibcus’ house they still weren’t giving much away.
“I did have a bit of contact with them beforehand,” Gibcus said.
“Matt [Clarke], the recruiter, came over to my house the week before but he kept his cards pretty close to his chest.
“So, I wasn’t exactly sure if he wasn’t going to take me or not, but it was a huge relief when they took me,” he said.
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The wait was a bit more agonising for Brown, whose father Paul played 84 games for Geelong between 1988-95 which meant he was just ineligible for father-son selection.
Despite that, a future at the Cats still beckoned with the club holding onto multiple second-round selections, as Brown was predicted to be snapped up anywhere from the end of the first round to the early second round, with a sleepless night between rounds definitely on the cards.
“No club really gives much indication if they are interested or not, so I had no expectations going into the draft,” Brown said.
“I am really thankful for the opportunity I have been given at Richmond.”
While the pair chose to celebrate with close family last night, they are ready to get to work, but are realistic to what they can achieve in their first year.
Despite some apparent holes in the Richmond backline heading into 2022 with David Astbury and Bachar Houli retiring and Noah Balta returning from a syndesmosis injury, the pair remain committed to not setting their expectations too high.
“I won’t get those expectations up so high so soon, but I’m just really looking forward to obviously working my hardest and earning the respect of everyone there,” Gibcus said.
“It’s obviously going to be hard to adjust to that sort of work ethic and all that, but the work starts now.”
“I guess I find out next week if I’m up to the standard,” Brown said.
“You see it on TV but you never know unless you are put in that situation, but I feel like I will be up to the standard.”
The Tigers will look to add to these two selections on the second night of the draft, armed with picks 28, 29, 30 and 78.
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