Jason Horne – Francis, the number one pick in last year’s AFL Draft, has officially requested a trade back to South Australia with Port Adelaide rumored to be his club of choice. But how does the deal get completed?
If Port Adelaide fans were looking for a Sunday night pick-me-up, they got it. Perhaps the biggest news to come out of the trade period in years came late last night. Per reports, Jason Horne-Francis lodged an official trade request as he seeks to move back home to Adelaide.
Ken Hinkley’s Port Adelaide is considered the 19-year-old’s preferred choice. His stepfather, Fabian Francis, played 86 games for the club between 1997 and 2001.
Requesting a trade and seeing it actually go through are two completely different things, so expect this deal to take some time to complete. It would likely require a serious trade haul from Port Adelaide for North Melbourne to even contemplate off-loading the former South Adelaide star.
So how does Ken Hinkley & Co. tempt North into trading their prized asset?
At the time of writing, only two draft picks would make sense to be included in the deal for Horne-Francis. Port currently holds Pick 8 and Pick 27 (Karl Amon compensation from Hawthorn). That would be the minimum that North would want for the 19-year-old.
Before the AFL Draft last year, Adelaide had reportedly offered Pick 6 and two first-round selections for Pick 1 to lure Horne-Francis, but that was rebuffed.
For Port, Pick 27 is likely to be used to acquire Junior Rioli from West Coast. So, any potential deal with North would need to include a minimum of two first-round selections. That means Port’s Pick 8 this year and their future first-round selection in next year’s draft.
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Reports have also been floating around that Port Adelaide could include a player to sweeten the deal.
For most, North needs to get full value for Horne-Francis as he is entering the last year of his contract. Having him unsettled and not performing well in 2023 would seriously hamper what kind of compensation they could potentially get.
The starting point for many is two first-rounders which, from all indications, Port Adelaide is more than happy to do to acquire him.
Is Port taking a risk by going after Horne-Francis?
After GM Chris Davies said the club would be aggressive in the trade period, that has proven true.
Horne-Francis only has eyes for Alberton, but with all the issues that plagued him last year, some are hesitant about offering so much for a player who only showed glimpses of his talent. That is, for many, not multiple first-round picks worthy. He played 17 games in his first season, averaging 16 disposals a game and three clearances for North Melbourne.
There were many mitigating factors to what went on last season. Being homesick from day one, David Noble being sacked, and being generally unsettled did not make for the best of starts to an AFL career for the teenager.
There is an adherent risk to giving away serious draft capital. But for a 19-year-old midfielder that Port desperately needs to ease the workload on Travis Boak and Ollie Wines, it’s a no-brainer. Such is Port Adelaide’s want to rejuvenate its list; adding Horne-Francis to a midfield group that includes Connor Rozee, Sam Powell-Pepper, and Zak Butters to compliment the next wave of young talent, will surely send tongues wagging at Alberton.
Many have pointed to the 19-year-old’s attitude as a reason to stay clear. In truth, there aren’t many players in the AFL that is better served for a young player to learn off than Travis Boak.
Boak worked wonders for Sam Powell-Pepper and could do the same for Horne-Francis. After a poor season in 2022 and with the fanbase wanting change, acquiring the 19-year-old is the perfect tonic for Port Adelaide and will generate serious excitement.
All that is left is to work out a deal, but don’t expect North to let him go without a fight.
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