North Melbourne’s prized 2021 number one draft pick Jason Horne-Francis has informed the club he wants to be traded home to South Australia.
The request puts an end to months of speculation surrounding the 19-year-old midfielder’s future.
Nine Adelaide’s Corey Norris reported Port Adelaide has put forward a four-year deal for the young gun to join the club of his stepfather Fabian Francis.
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It’s a massive potential payday for Horne-Francis, should North Melbourne honour his trade request – though it’ll take a massive trade offer for them to do so.
The Age reported only an “exceptional deal” would see them give up Horne-Francis.
It’s believed Port Adelaide’s top pick, currently No.8 (but No.9 after a draft-night bid on Brisbane father-son Will Ashcroft) and their future first-round pick would form the centre of the trade proposal.
The Power are much more likely to be able to satisfy the Kangaroos in a trade, because Adelaide is already using its first-round pick (currently No.5) to land Gold Coast’s Izak Rankine.
“Jason is contracted for next year, we’ve invested significantly in him as our first-ever No.1 pick just 12 months ago and we view him as a key part of the club’s plans going forward,” Roos list manager Brady Rawlings said.
“We appreciate Jason’s circumstances but at the same time we’re determined to look after the best interests of North Melbourne.”
Horne-Francis was North Melbourne’s first ever number one draft pick and seen as the player to help lift the Roos off the bottom of the table.
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But he put contract extension talks on hold midway through the year in the first sign not all was harmonious between club and player.
On-field disagreements with teammates, including one where Todd Goldstein was forced to step in and speak with Horne-Francis, ensured whispers of homesickness grew during the year.
Two-time premiership Roo David King even warned the youngster to “pull your head in” after the argument with Goldstein back in June.
“They’ve got a massive issue with the No. 1 pick – he is playing his own game at the moment,” the dual-premiership Kangaroo said at the time.
“Now if you want to learn anything at 18 years of age going into an AFL system, you do not know the lot. You’re not the finished product, so listen to players that are trying to help you.
“It’s a massive issue in his game and it’s a real problem for this kid — from day one that’s been his mannerisms.”
Horne-Francis was also sanctioned for heading home to see his mother for Mother’s Day after he failed to properly inform the club of his travel plans.
At the time, fellow former one draft pick Jack Watts urged Horne-Francis to “get out” of Arden Street.
The toughest moment of Horne-Francis’ debut year came when he was infamously dropped from the Kangaroos’ trip to South Australia to take on Adelaide late in the season due to poor training standards.
At the time, it was revealed Horne-Francis had failed to follow an instruction over a post-match ice bath.
Roos runner and club great Brent Harvey said the decision to drop Horne-Francis from the game he was likely looking forward to was a tough call.
Horne-Francis managed 17 games in his debut season for North Melbourne.
Just last month he won the club’s Best Young Player at the Syd Barker Medal count.