Jason Horne-Francis is officially a Kangaroo, after waiting out a pair of heart-stopping trades to kick off Wednesday night's NAB AFL Draft, and receiving the famous number 6 jumper from North Melbourne legend Malcolm Blight.
But the South Australian nearly missed his big moment, when the TV he was watching the draft on from Adelaide's Cathedral Hotel cut out just as North Melbourne's recruiting team called his name.
“The TV shut off so we couldn’t see much. Luckily Benny, my manager, hooked us up with his phone and we were able to watch it. It’s a pretty special moment,” Horne-Francis told Fox Footy.
“I can’t wait to get into things with the North Melbourne footy club. I’m really excited. They’ve got a lot of young midfielders and I think I can learn a lot off a lot of players at the club.”
Two-time North premiership defender David King echoed the excitement felt by Kangaroos fans in welcoming Horne-Francis' selection.
“I think he’s one of the guys the Kangaroos are desperately looking for to build this midfield out,” King said.
“They know what they’re going to get, they got the ruckman during the year in Jacob Edwards. There’s no doubt we’re all excited at the Kangaroos to have him on board.
“This is the face of the Kangaroos right now, you’re seeing the next star right now for the Kangaroos football club for a decade.”
The club’s National Recruiting Manager Mark Finnigan said the Kangaroos are delighted to have finally got their man.
“We are really happy to bring in a player of Jason’s quality. He has produced a high level of football at a number of different levels as a junior, including SANFL League over the last two seasons”.
“Jason has proven he can play all three zones effectively. He gives us plenty of flexibility with his inside/outside balance, power, speed, aerial competency, ground level work and scoreboard impact”.
“He is gifted offensively, however, one of the standout features of his game is his ability to stay in the game at all times with an elite defensive mindset. A lot of players have to learn this in the first couple of seasons in the system, but Jason has displayed his appetite to tackle, pressure and defend over the last few years”.
“Being picked as No.1 is a credit to him and his family. He has great character, work ethic and leadership. We look forward to Jason being a Shinboner for a long time to come”.
Former North players Corey McKernan and Troy Makepeace were among those celebrating Horne-Francis' arrival on social media, rapt for the bright future of their former club.
looks great in those colours already.— Troy Makepeace (@makoshark35) November 24, 2021