North Melbourne champion David King has called for the club’s prized pick 1 draftee Jason Horne-Francis to “pull his head in,” saying the youngster has a “massive issue” after Sunday’s loss to GWS.
Horne-Francis had a day to forget in the team’s 49-point defeat to the Giants, with several instances involving the 18-year old coming under scrutiny as Fox Footy’s pundits noted he appeared “frustrated.”
It included Horne-Francis getting in an argument with veteran ruckman Todd Goldstein on the half-time siren, while the 12-gamer later caught Giants star Josh Kelly high with a swinging arm in an incident set to be looked at by the MRO.
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Speaking on Fox Footy’s First CrackKing called for Horne-Francis to change his attitude.
“They’ve got a massive issue with the No. 1 pick – he is playing his own game at the moment,” the dual-premiership Kangaroo said.
“He needs to pull his head in, it’s as simple as that. I know he’s a star factor player.
“He’s abusing his teammates on the field. There’s problems with his own game that he’s not really presenting his best footy, yet he’s happy to spray guys that are 300-gamers.
“Here’s Goldstein trying to tap the ball to him, which becomes the source of a heated discussion at half-time.
“Now if you want to learn anything at 18 years of age going into an AFL system, you do not know the lot. You’re not the finished product, so listen to players that are trying to help you.
“It’s a massive issue in his game and it’s a real problem for this kid — from day one that’s been his mannerisms.
“I know you can say he’s frustrated with them not winning, but this abusing your teammates. I think it’s counter productive to what the group are trying to achieve, and I wonder what they’re doing down there to rein that in, because this has been a problem for two months now.”
North Melbourne coach David Noble said the teenager wasn’t the only player in white and blue frustrated during Sunday’s loss.
“He’s a young guy, a young man learning the caper,” Noble said.
“He’s got high standards, high expectations, so there’s some frustration out there, there’s no doubt. But I don’t think it’s limited to him.”
The Horne-Francis concerns come after Noble made another selection statement this week in dumping young star Tarryn Thomas, having already dropped several senior players earlier this season.
And former Hawthorn sharpshooter Ben Dixon, who competed with King and believed Horne-Francis showed a “lack of respect” to Goldstein, said such behavior warranted the youngster getting sent down to the seconds.
“Turn around and listen to what he’s got to say to teach you how to play,” Dixon said of the argument between Horne-Francis and Goldstein.
“If you’re No. 1 draft pick and you disrespect someone like that, I’d be dropping you (rather) than Tarryn Thomas.
“I’d be saying, ‘mate you’re going down to VFL football until you pick your bottom lip up and your attitude picks up.’ Because it’s unacceptable and it’s week in week out that he dishes it up.”
Horne-Francis has already made headlines in recent weeks, most recently raising eyebrows after he liked a mock trade social media post that involved the young star getting traded to Port Adelaide.
It comes after the South Australian opted to put off contract talks with the Kangaroos for a new deal beyond 2023, while it was also revealed he received “caution” for failing to follow club protocols after flying back to South Australia to see his mum on Mother’s Day.
Despite the build up of events, dual All-Australian Leigh Montagna argued that Horne-Francis is still adapting to the AFL system and playing for a struggling Kangaroos side with just one win through 13 games.
“I’m a bit more sympathetic to him, the kid has played 12 games, he’s 18 years of age, it’s a tough environment for him to come into,” the Saints great said.
“He’s always been a high achiever, he’s always been the best player, probably played in winning teams. Now he’s finding himself in this situation, I think he’s just got to mature and learn.”
King labeled the hit on Kelly the “end point” to Horne-Francis’ frustrating day against the Giants — and called for the former Pick 1 to learn from the wise heads around him.
He even suggested for Horne-Francis to turn to a former great who changed their approach over the years such as Nathan Buckley for professional advice on how to carry himself moving forward.
“I’d rather he learns that his teammates are there to help him through all these things, rather than abusing them — it’s totally counter-productive,” King said.
“I just don’t understand where this takes him. I genuinely hope that he sits down with a Nathan Buckley, who was like this at the start of his AFL career – that everything had to be perfect and it was him steering the ship. And he wouldn’t handle those around him not living that way.
“I think there’s a bit of that about this kid, and he wasn’t the best version of himself until he did embrace that.
“If you’re going to abuse people, you’ve got to get your house in order.”