Jason Horne-Francis has admitted the uncertainty surrounding Alastair Clarkson’s future had some bearing on his decision to leave North Melbourne.
Horne-Francis requested a move on the eve of the trade period after just one season at the Kangaroos, with the 2021 number one draft pick traded this week as part of a four-club mega deal.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Horne-Francis said North Melbourne’s current situation played a part in his desire to return home to South Australia.
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“I wanted to make sure I was in a stable environment coming into next year,” he said.
“I think a lot of people know it might be another unstable year at North. We just thought to go back home to a great club like Port Adelaide would be best for me.”
Horne-Francis’ future was the subject of intense scrutiny after his trade request – the 19-year-old revealed he had tried to disconnect from the AFL world during the negotiations.
“I turned my phone off for a week or so, as we know it (trade request) was a big thing,” he said.
“I got a lot of reassurance from Ben, my manager, that he was pretty confident, so that made me pretty confident. I kind of just sat back and got relaxed.”
Throughout his debut season, Horne-Francis attracted criticism for the way he addressed some of his senior teammates on-field as well as some missteps when it came to recovery.
That, coupled with a failure to inform North Melbourne when he made a trip to South Australia to see his family during the season, was proof he had much to learn, he said.
“It’s obviously been tough,” he admitted.
“There’s been challenges throughout the year and probably on my part I haven’t done everything right as well.
“As an 18-year-old kid moving out of home and to Melbourne, it was tough and I had my challenges … I think it’s going to help me in the long run.”