Jason Horne-Francis’ failure to complete his “proper ice bath and recovery” is what led to his shock axing from the side to face Adelaide, 7NEWS has revealed.
Horne-Francis was left out of the Kangaroos’ line up for what would have been his first homecoming to play in front of family and friends since being snapped up with North’s first number one draft pick.
7NEWS journalist Mitch Cleary said the prized draft pick was omitted for “disobeying his coach” last weekend.
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“The star teenager was called out by interim coach Leigh Adams and senior players on Sunday for failing to complete his proper ice baths and recovery in front of their very eyes,” Cleary reported.
“He spent this morning with a dozen teammates training in Melbourne (instead of travelling with the squad).”
He’ll now play in the VFL after failing to live up to the club’s “Monday to Friday” expectations.
With Horne-Francis putting off contract extension talks earlier this year, there’s fears the 18-year-old could be preparing to depart the ‘Roos at the end of 2023 – when his initial two-year draft deal expires.
But North Melbourne great Brent Harvey says the club will not be “held to ransom” by Horne-Francis’ uncertain future.
“I think there’s always a risk (when dropping him),” Harvey said on RSN on Friday.
“He’s going to have the spotlight on him because he’s the number one draft pick … (but) he hasn’t gone out and robbed a bank, he hasn’t done nothing bad; teammates love him, staff love him, the coaches love him – he hasn’t done nothing bad. This is just part of the development of a young boy to get his preparation right and everybody else. Not just Jason.
“The risk is there (that he departs) … we know the risk, everybody knows the right. Not just Jason. It could be draft pick number five, not number one and they’re from Adelaide or Perth – the going home factor is always going to be there. Same as a Perth club that drafts a Melbourne boy – it’s always going to be there.
“But you can’t get held to ransom for these little things. You’ve got to make sure your culture is number one and that’s what our coach is doing right now and I absolutely love it.”
The decision to axe Horne-Francis shocked the AFL community, with Fox Footy’s Nick Riewoldt labelling the move “strange”, while David King questioned the call given the teen would have motivation to perform in front of his support network.
Brownlow Medallist Gerard Healy even told 3AW’s Sportsday that Horne-Francis’ non-selection for the Crows game was “a bookend to a pretty disappointing season”.
But Harvey opened up on the decision to axe Horne-Francis, who was also left in the VFL for a week after returning from suspension earlier this season.
“There’s some stuff that we call Monday to Friday, it’s preparation stuff – you need to tick the boxes,” he said.
“This is not just about Jason … (Caretaker coach) Leigh Adams has got very good standards, I’ve got to be a little bit careful … but we’ve got players not playing in our team and I’ll name one right now: Kayne Turner.
“He would run through brick walls for every single one of his teammates and every single one of his supporters – he does everything right.
“If he’s not playing, he’s playing in the reserves at the minute, you’d want to be doing everything right to make sure you’re holding up your end of the bargain. We call that Monday to Friday and if you haven’t got your Monday to Friday in order, that’s just not good enough right now.
“Was it good enough in Round 3, Round 4, Round 5? Maybe.
“But with Leigh Adams in charge, the standards have gone to another level and players have to play their part. Monday to Friday is just as important as performing on game day for us.
“There’s not just one incident where we’ve just said (to Horne-Francis): ‘Nah, you’re not playing because of this’. It’s not that at all, everything comes into calculations, the form side of it, what he’s doing after stoppage. There’s so much that comes into it.”
Harvey, who played 432 games for the Roos and was a premiership winner in 1999, said the club needed to instil the best culture possible in Horne-Francis and the Kangaroos squad moving forward.
“The end of the day, we’ll always come back to what’s best for the football club and what’s best for the culture,” Harvey said.
“He’s 18 years old, there are going to be little mistakes along the way.
“Any draftee that comes is not perfect, they are never perfect … he’s come over from interstate, straight into an elite environment.
“Our job is to teach them. Then they’ve got to learn themselves.
“I think he’s done fantastic in his first year away from mum and dad.
“(But) if you compromise on your culture, things go pear shaped real quickly.”