Jason Horne-Francis North Melbourne, Scott Clayton says as good as any Pick 1 he’s seen

Veteran North Melbourne recruiter Scott Clayton believes South Adelaide young gun Jason Horne-Francis is one of the best Pick 1 draft prospects he’s ever seen.

And in a promising sign for Kangaroos fans concerned about the ‘go home factor’, Clayton believes the South Australian product’s selflessness and loyalty are just as impressive as his on-field talent.

Horne-Francis is a near-certainty to be taken by North with the first pick of November’s national draft following the midfielder’s outstanding 2021 campaign and strong junior career.

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Clayton, who’s spent almost three decades in the AFL recruiting/list industry, said he was excited about the prospect of the Roos drafting such a prestigious talent with the first pick of the draft.

“It’s a big mantle to carry for your whole career – and this young man will carry it amazingly well,” Clayton said during an online question and answer session with Kangaroos members.

“The thing about it that jumps out from him is he wants to be No. 1. I just get that feeling. He’s as good as any No. 1 in years I can remember.”

Clayton said Horne-Francis, a South Australian product that is not only powerful at the contest but also classy by foot on the outside, reminded him of several AFL greats.

Jason Horne-Francis is the Pick 1 favourite. Picture: Russell MillardSource: News Corp Australia

“There’s been some great players and he’s got the attributes of some of those players,” he said.

“I don’t necessarily want to compare him to a player, but he has the attributes of (Michael) Voss and (Patrick) Dangerfield with that power and endurance combination that a lot of those great players have. Dusty Martin being another one,” he said.

“He’s certainly got that, as well as courage, he’s forthright, he’s very determined, he’s assertive – he’s got everything. We meticulously rate and mark characteristics and playing position specifically and he’s just a really exciting talent.

“The thing that stands out more than all of that, though, is he’s a great teammate. That appeals to us more than anything.

“The other thing that just keeps coming through loud and clear is how loyal is.

“He’s really looking forward to stamping himself as a professional athlete.”

North’s national recruiting manager Mark Finnigan said Horne-Francis had shown off his ability to influence and change matches against both players his own age and at SANFL league level.

Jason Horne-Francis playing for the AFL Academy earlier this year. Picture: Michael KleinSource: News Corp Australia

“A real strong point for him is his ability to play multiple roles. South Adelaide have done a fantastic job this year in playing him in different roles to develop him, whether it be inside-mid, forward, even coming off half-back for a few weeks,” Finnigan said.

“He’s a really talented kid who’s got the make-up to be an exceptional player with the drive and determination and character to get there.”

The Kangaroos received two offers during the recent trade period – one from Adelaide then another from Richmond – in a bid to entice them to trade away the first pick of this year’s national draft. Both advances were rejected by North.

Even though clubs can still trade draft picks until just before draft night – then during the draft itself – Roos football boss Brady Rawlings declared it “would be pretty hard for someone to get their hands on Pick 1”.

“We’ve got a massive value on it. Obviously we can attribute it to a player rather than just a number and then that makes that all the more attractive,” he said.

Bombers will be aggressive in draft | 00:52

The Kangaroos also hold Picks 20, 42 and 47, with the latter two selections almost certain to come earlier after Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs match early bids on father-son prospects Nick Daicos and Sam Darcy respectively.

Kangaroos list manager Glenn Luff said the club felt it could use those selections to target specific players to fit their list needs.

“The beauty about this draft – and we won’t get into specifics of what we’re actually targeting – but we’ve got a clear plan of what we want to do long-term and this draft gives you a lot of versatility,” he said.

“There’s a lot of players that will fall into our picks – whether it’s 20 or picks in the 40s – that give you plenty of options. It’s not the sort of draft where you can say ‘it’s just a bunch of midfielders and you’re forced to take the best talent’.

“It’s going to be an open draft and from our point of view with where we’re at with our list, it’s exciting to think that we can really look at some targeted positions with those picks.”

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