Dual premiership Kangaroo David King has urged his former club to hold Jason Horne-Francis to his contract should no suitable trade be put to the club, despite the No. 1 pick’s bombshell request.
It comes amid reports West Coast has taken a hardline stance in the blockbuster three-way trade mooted on Wednesday that could help Horne-Francis land at the Power.
The Kangaroos on Sunday night confirmed Horne-Francis, who was drafted by North with Pick 1 in the 2021 national draft, wanted to return home to South Australia, with Port Adelaide confirming the next day the young gun had nominated Alberton Oval as his preferred destination.
Watch Trading Day every weeknight from 5pm EST on Fox Footy – daily news and analysis of the AFL trade period. Stream it live or on-demand on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
Foxfooty.com.au on Wednesday night revealed a three-way mega-deal involving the Kangaroos, Power, Eagles, Horne-Francis and Junior Rioli – who wants a trade from West Coast to Port Adelaide – had been discussed.
The cornerstone trade would see the Eagles split Pick 2 and acquire Pick 8 from Port Adelaide, as well as the Power’s future first-round draft pick. Pick 2, as well as another significant Port pick or player, would then be sent to North in exchange for Horne-Francis. An array of later selections would also be swapped to help sweeten the deal.
More coverage …
‘DONE EVERYTHING TO DRIVE HIM OUT DOOR’: The ‘chaos’ behind No.1 pick’s shock Roos exit
‘SELL YOUR CLUB ON HIM’: How ‘Buckley-type’ trade recruit can revive Port’s top-four hopes
But multiple outlets on Wednesday night reported the Eagles wouldn’t pull the trigger on the three-way trade in its current state as they’d require more compensation than Pick 8 and Port’s 2023 first-rounder for parting with Pick 2 and Rioli. 9 News Perth journalist Paddy Sweeney reported on Twitter the Eagles were “not interested” and “wouldn’t entertain” the deal at this stage.
Not only do the Eagles want more for such a high pick in this year’s draft, they’re also determined to secure the best compensation for losing premiership player Rioli to Port Adelaide. This was highlighted by the fact they rejected the selection (Pick 27) the Power received from the AFL for losing free agent Karl Amon to Hawthorn as compensation for Rioli.
LATEST TRADING DAY PODCAST – Wednesday Oct 5 trade wrap
Should the deal fall over, it means Horne-Francis would face an agonising wait – likely right up until Wednesday night’s trade deadline – to find out whether his Power wish would be granted.
Speaking on Fox Footy’s Trading Day, King said the Kangaroos were not “as urgent as what everyone else thinks” to get the deal done, adding the onus was on the Power.
“I think the urgency for me is with Port Adelaide,” he told Trading Day. “When you look at their list – Travis Boak 34 (years old), Charlie Dixon 32, Tom Jonas 32, Trent McKenzie 31 – so the ball’s in their court.
Trade period underway, where to for JHF? | 02:30
“I know that they’re trying to get other clubs involved to get a better deal done, but we wait and see.”
Several contracted AFL players in recent years have had their trade requests denied in recent years after clubs couldn’t agree on a suitable deal. But Tim Kelly, Josh Dunkley and Tristan Xerri are examples of players that put the disappointment behind them and thrived with their club the next year.
Asked if the Roos should hold Horne-Francis to his contract if a suitable deal can’t be struck, King said: “Absolutely … If you hold for 12 months, the Adelaide Crows right now are invested in Izak Rankine. Next year, they free up and you get two (SA clubs) at an auction – far better than one.
“I would (hold Horne-Francis to his contract). I think sometimes as a club you can be super strong and say: ‘We’re not just accepting what a manager says. We’re a footy club, we’ve got to back ourselves in – you’ve got another year of contract.’”
Fellow Trading Day panellist Leigh Montagna said there’d been enough signs from Horne-Francis in 2022 to suggest there could be an issue with his attitude if he was forced to stay at North next year.
But King said he backed the Roos to flip the script, while adding the club was bigger than any player.
Key to unlocking JHF deal? | 04:31
“I’m not concerned that he’s unhappy at the moment. You can work through that. We’ve seen that hundreds of times across the system,” King said.
“You (the Kangaroos) go as hard as you can to then try and satisfy him next year, would be my thoughts … But if the deal is not what you want it to be, it won’t be done.
“It’s a big investment from the Kangaroos: Pick 1 last year. There’s enough gone wrong this year to say: ‘Hang on, enough is enough. As a football club, we’re taking a stand. We’re not just becoming the development ground for other clubs.’”
King said Horne-Francis’ request was “disappointing” considering North’s tough 2022 campaign, but urged the Roos to take a stand at the trade table if needed.
“It’s disappointing. Pick 1 is the best player in the draft, you’re the poorest-performed club and things have gone downhill since he was selected,” he said.
“I understand why he would want to leave – we all sit here and understand that it’s a challenge mentally for this young man in the position he’s in, he’s homesick – but I just think as a football club, sometimes you’ve just got to say: ‘We’re doing what’s best for us. And right now, the trade that’s up for grabs is not the best for us. Get fair dinkum with it or move on.’”