AFL pundits were surprised by North Melbourne’s decision to drop No.1 Jason Horne Francis for the clash with the Crows in Adelaide.
The Kangaroos have named three inclusions for the match against Adelaide, with star veteran Ben Cunnington making his much-anticipated AFL return after beating cancer. Cunnington is joined by key defender Ben McKay and father-son draft pick Jackson Archer.
But the Roos also made a statement by leaving out Horne-Francis and recruiting Hugh Greenwood and key defender Josh Walker, while Flynn Perez was the club’s unused medical squad for last Sunday’s game against Sydney.
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Horne-Francis was also not named in the emergencies which included Walker, Greenwood Atou Bosenavalagi and Josh Goater.
The 2021 No.1 draft pick played in 12 of North’s first 13 games this season before serving a two-game suspension and returning through the VFL. But Horne-Francis has kicked one goal in his last four AFL games and averaged 14.3 goals.
Speaking on Fox Football AFL 360 Plus St Kilda champion Nick Rialt on Thursday night thought the call to drop Horne-Francis was “strange”.
“There’s two games left in the year, I think you’re trying to get games into these guys, I think you can expose them as much as you can, for a coach like Alastair Clarkson, look at the young players and the game. Adelaide – All his family and friends (are) there. He really wanted to get back there at the beginning of the year, which caused some problems,” Riewoldt told Fox Footy.
Two-time premiership Kangaroo David King was surprised by the decision.
“Why would you drop Horne-Francis? He’s coming back to Adelaide to play in front of family and friends, why not give him that chance? I don’t understand,” King told SEN.
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“Just put him there in front of his friends and family because he wants to play.”
Brownlow Medalist Gerard Healy told 3AW’s. Sports day Horne Francis not picking the game for the Crows made for a “pretty disappointing season”.
Horn has faced criticism on social media for liking a ‘fake trade’ involving Francis, who flew to South Australia earlier this season and headed to Port Adelaide. Club great Todd Goldstein was also singled out by footy commentators.
There has also been speculation over Horne-Francis’ future and he has hinted he could return to South Australia after breaking off contract talks with the Kangaroos over a new deal beyond 2023.
Dual Australian Leigh Montagna said he thought it was an “unusual” selection move. AFL 360 Plus “Tough love can hold you back in the long run.”
“I think it’s a general consensus, ‘Why don’t you just play them,’ but with Jamara Ugle-Hagan, we’ve seen that sometimes some tough love in the short term can hold players better in the long term,” Montagna told Fox Footy.
Maybe there are things we don’t know he’s still working on in the game, or maybe he doesn’t buy some of the goals they want.