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No.1 draft pick admission couldn’t be sweeter

Jason Horne-Francis is bound for Arden Street. Picture: James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images

No.1 draft pick Jason Horne-Francis is so excited to be joining North Melbourne for 2022 that he slept in his new guernsey on Wednesday night.

Since the off-season began, speculation had been rife that the wooden spooners would select Horne-Francis with the first pick of the draft, and on Wednesday they made it official.

The versatile South Australian will join his new teammates at Arden Street from Monday and is rapt to be taking the first steps of his AFL journey.

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“I slept in the guernsey last night. My mate’s got a photo of it,” Horne-Francis admitted on Thursday.

“I just didn’t want to wear anything else.”

Horne-Francis is preparing to fly into Melbourne on Sunday morning and will join the Kangaroos for training “straight away”.

A midfielder with the ability to wreak havoc in the forward line, the 18-year-old has already begun discussing his role in the 22 with senior coach David Noble.

“(Noble) just said to me, ‘Wherever you think you can fit in, if you want to have a forward spot or a mid spot, if you think you’re good enough, you’ll get in there’,” Horne-Francis revealed.

But Horne-Francis knows there are no guarantees now that he’s in the big leagues, not even for a No.1 draft pick.

“It’d be really special to debut in round 1 but if not, we’ll just have to keep working hard. It’s going to be a lot of hard work,” he said.

“I’m really excited. (The Kangaroos) have got a bright future. The young players, the senior players and the coaching staff they’ve got are all amazing people.”

Horne-Francis is the first South Australian since Bryce Gibbs (2006) to be selected with the first pick of the national draft. Picture: James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images
Horne-Francis is the first South Australian since Bryce Gibbs (2006) to be selected with the first pick of the national draft. Picture: James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images

Presented with the opportunity to select guernsey No. 18, the same worn by club legend Wayne Carey, Horne-Francis instead chose to suit up in No.6 from next season.

“We knew 18 was there. The great Wayne Carey wore that but to create my own pathway I thought (picking No.6) was good for me,” he said.

Horne-Francis joins Richmond tall forward Callum Coleman-Jones and Hugh Greenwood, who backflipped on a plan to be delisted and redrafted to Gold Coast’s rookie list, in packing his bags for Arden Street.

North Melbourne will return to the draft table on Thursday night with picks 22, 34 and 37 in hand. The club also holds picks 64 and 70.

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