North Melbourne have confirmed the AFL’s worst-kept secret, taking young gun Jason Horne-Francis with their prized first ever number one draft pick.
The South Australian, who emerged as the outstanding player of his draft class with some stellar performances playing senior SANFL football with South Adelaide, was the unbackable favourite to be taken by the Kangaroos, and will now wear blue and white in 2022.
“I can’t wait to get into things with the North Melbourne footy club; it’s a really special moment that I’ve got to share with some great people,” Horne-Francis told Fox Footy after being taken.
“North are in the right direction and they’ve got a lot of young talent. I think I can learn off a lot of players at the club.”
Horne-Francis is confident that he will, as many predict, make his debut in Round 1 next year, having proved himself as a readymade prospect in the SANFL.
“I feel like I’m pretty well-prepared and pretty ready for it [a Round 1 debut],” he said.
Horne-Francis was selected after North chose not to bid on highly rated father-son prospects Nick Daicos and Sam Darcy.
The Kangaroos held the first pick for the first time in an AFL national draft and used it to select the classy midfielder on Wednesday night.
He was presented his jumper by AFL legend Malcolm Blight, who won a Brownlow Medal and played in the Kangaroos’ first two premierships in 1975 and 1977.
As well as his North connection, Blight is widely-regarded as one of the best footballers in South Australian history.
Although he was a certainty to be selected by North, Horne-Francis did not instantly have the news relayed to him.
“It was a bit weird, we couldn’t see much and luckily my manager hooked us up with his phone,” he told Fox Footy.
“Definitely a lot of excitement. I can’t wait to get into things with the North Melbourne footy club.
Horne-Francis looks ready to step straight into North’s best team under David Noble next year, after playing two seasons of senior football with SANFL club South Adelaide.
Meanwhile, ruck-forward Darcy was selected with pick two after the Western Bulldogs matched GWS’ bid for the son of Luke.
Daicos went at pick four, with Gold Coast bidding for the midfielder before Collingwood quickly snapped him up.