Comments from North Melbourne great and club runner Brent Harvey on prized No. 1 draft pick Jason Horne-Francis’ contact situation have raised eyebrows.
There’s been speculation around Horne-Francis’ future and talk he could return to South Australia after putting off contract talks with the Kangaroos on a new deal beyond 2023.
It comes in the midst of a disappointing season for the embattled club, sitting 17th on the ladder with just one win over the bottom-placed Eagles.
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But speaking on Channel 7’s The Al and Lingy Show, Harvey candidly explained why it made sense for the 19-year old to hold off on an extension from a financial standpoint.
“Why would he want to sign? He’s probably our fifth best player now, he’s going to be our second or third best player next year. That’s dollar signs straight away to his manager. He’d be silly to sign the contract,” the 432-game legend said.
“Do we want him to sign? Of course we do as a football club, but his manager would be a silly bugger to make him sign right now.”
Responding to Harvey comments on Channel 9’s Footy Classified, ex-Magpies president Eddie McGuire questioned how the Kangaroos would’ve taken it.
“What would you say if your runner said that at your football club about your star player at a time when your club’s at a lowest ebb?” McGuire posed to the panel.
To which former St Kilda and Fremantle coach Ross Lyon responded: “I think it’d be, ‘we need to have a talk son’.”
The Channel 9 program alsohighlighted that Horne-Francis had liked a social media post by 7AFL featuring the above Harvey quotes.
Veteran journalist Caroline Wilson believes Horne-Francis has been an “unwelcomed distraction” to the Roos this year after being the hot subject of commentary in recent weeks.
It includes Horne-Francis getting suspended for striking Giants star Josh Kelly a fortnight ago, while in the same game the young Roo got into an on-field argument with veteran teammate Todd Goldstein — an exchange downplayed by Goldstein while conceding the first-year player needed to work on his body language.
Former No. 1 pick Jack Watts encouraged Horne-Francis to leave the Roos due to the amount of pressure he’s faced that comes with the title of being the draft’s opening selection.
And Lyon also thought avoiding further scrutiny would be the best thing for Horne-Francis’ career moving forward.
“(It’s) beggars belief for Jason Horne-Francis — you don’t want a pile on. This kid is under enough pressure,” the ex- Saints and Dockers boss said on Footy Classified.
“It’s a bit like Jordan (De Goey) — don’t put the spotlight on yourself — because once it’s there it’s searing.”