North Melbourne champion David King has called on Jason Horne-Francis to “pull his head in”, saying the youngster has a “big problem”.
North Melbourne champion David King has called on the club’s prized pick 1 Jason Horne-Francis to “pull his head in”, saying the youngster is in “big problem” 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 of the 18-year-old coming under scrutiny as Fox Footy’s pundits noted that he appeared “frustrated”.
It included Horne-Francis getting into a fight with veteran ruckman Todd Goldstein over the siren at halftime, while the 12-gamer later Giants star Josh Kelly caught high with a swinging arm in an incident to be watched by the MRO†
Speaking at Fox Footy’s first tearKing Horne-Francis called for a change of attitude.
“They have a huge problem with the number 1 pick – he’s playing his own game at the moment,” said Kangaroo with dual premiership.
“He has to pull his head in, it’s that simple. I know he is a star factor player.
“He abuses his teammates on the pitch. There are issues with his own game that he doesn’t really present his best football, but still he is happy to spray guys who are 300 gamers.
“Here’s Goldstein trying to tap the ball to him, which becomes the source of a heated argument at halftime.
“If you want to learn about an AFL system at 18, you don’t know it. You’re not the finished product, so listen to players trying to help you.
“It’s a huge problem in his game and it’s a real problem for this boy – that’s been his mannerisms from day one.
“I know you can say he’s frustrated that they’re not winning, but he’s abusing your teammates. I think it’s counterproductive to what the group is trying to achieve, and I wonder what they’re doing down there to make that happen.” as this has been a problem for two months.”
North Melbourne coach David Noble said the teenager wasn’t the only white and blue player frustrated over Sunday’s loss.
“He’s a young fellow, a young man learning capers,” Noble said.
“He has high standards, high expectations, so there’s some frustration, no doubt about that. But I don’t think it’s limited to him.”
Horne-Francis’s concerns come after Noble made another selection statement this week by dumping young star Tarryn Thomas after dropping several older players earlier this season.
And former Hawthorn marksman Ben Dixon, who agreed with King and believed that Horne-Francis showed a “disrespect” to Goldstein, said such behavior warranted sending the youngster to the seconds.
“Turn around and listen to what he has to say to teach you how to play,” Dixon said of Horne-Francis and Goldstein’s feud.
“If you’re the number 1 on the draft pick and you don’t respect someone like that, I’d (rather) drop you than Tarryn Thomas.
“I’d say, ‘mate, you go to VFL football until you pick up your lower lip and improve your posture.’ Because it’s unacceptable and it’s week after week that he scoops it up.”
Horne-Francis has been making headlines in recent weeks, most recently raising eyebrows after liking a fake social media post showing the young star being trafficked to Port Adelaide.
It comes after the South Australian chose to postpone contract talks with the Kangaroos for a new deal after 2023, while it was also revealed he was facing “caution” for not following club protocols after flying back to South Australia to to see his mother on Mother’s Day.
Despite the build-up of events, the double 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 in 13 games.
“I have a little more sympathy for him, the boy has played 12 games, he is 18 years old, it is a difficult environment for him to get into,” said the Saints great.
“He’s always been a high achiever, he’s always been the best player, probably played in winning teams. Now that he’s in this situation, I think he just needs to mature and learn.”
King labeled the hit on Kelly the “ending point” of Horne-Francis’s frustrating day against the Giants – and called on the former Pick 1 to learn from the wise minds around him.
He even suggested that Horne-Francis turn to a former great who changed their approach over the years, such as Nathan Buckley, for professional advice on how to move himself forward.
“I’d rather he learn that his teammates are there to help him through all these things, rather than abusing them – it’s totally counterproductive,” King said.
“I just don’t understand where this is taking him. I really hope he sits down with a Nathan Buckley, who was like that at the start of his AFL career – that everything had to be perfect and it was him who piloted the ship. And he wouldn’t associate with the people around him who didn’t live like that.
“I think there’s a bit of that about this kid, and he wasn’t the best version of himself until he embraced that.
“If you’re going to abuse people, you need to get your house in order.”
Originally published as No. 1 AFL draft pick criticized for ‘abusing’ teammates, club great says ‘pull your head in’
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