Jason Horne-Francis injury twist after blockbuster AFL trade

Jason Horne-Francis is pictured during an AFL press conference.
Jason Horne-Francis has had surgery on both legs to relieve a painful injury he was battling through much of his rookie AFL season. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Weeks after securing his controversial exit from North Melbourne, 2021 No.1 draft pick Jason Horne-Francis is set to undergo leg surgery.

Horne-Francis was acquired by Port Adelaide in a four-team deal that went down to the wire during the trade period, with the Kangaroos getting back several high draft picks this season in exchange.

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It was revealed on Saturday that Horne-Francis had been battling a painful problem which required the arteries behind his knees to be decompressed.

Though the Power said they had been aware of the issue when he was medically examined prior to the trade, it was enough to cause some alarm bells among fans.

Fortunately, the Power expect Horne-Francis to be fit to start the season, however it is uncertain how much time he may miss in pre-season training.

Originally from South Australia, Horne-Francis expressed a desire to be traded from North Melbourne after just one year with the club - albeit a tumultuous one in which coach David Noble was sacked mid-season and the 19-year-old was dropped for disciplinary reasons.

"When the club committed to pursuing Jason during the trade period, we were made aware he had been managing ongoing, at times debilitating, pain in both calves and feet throughout the 2022 season," Port's head of medical services Tim O'Leary said.

"Our subsequent investigation revealed he had significant compression of the arteries in the back of his knees, causing blockage to the blood flow to his lower legs.

"Following consultation with numerous specialists ... we decided it was best for Jason's health, and ongoing football performance, that he have the surgery now to release the pressure on the arteries and restore normal blood flow to his lower legs.

"He is now recovering well ....with a view to being ready to play in the 2023 season opener."

North Melbourne move on from Horne-Francis amid Clarkson investigation

North Melbourne have endured a difficult season, capped both by Horne-Francis' trade demand and the emerging controversy surrounding recently hired head coach Alastair Clarkson.

Clarkson stood down soon after he was announced as Kangaroos coach after allegations of racial discrimination emerged against he and Brisbane coach Chris Fagan relating to their time working together at Hawthorn from the mid-2000s.

The claims centre on Clarkson's time at Hawthorn, with his then-football manager Fagan and former welfare manager Jason Burt also named in an ABC report alleging racist behaviour at the Hawks between 2008-16.

Clarkson, Burt and Fagan, who took leave from his role as the Brisbane coach when the allegations became public last month, deny any wrongdoing.

Alastaor Clarkson said Essendon's attempt to sign him as coach came much too late to be practical. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)
Alastair Clarkson will start as North Melbourne coach as planned, after briefly delaying his start due to the AFL's investigation into Hawthorn. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Clarkson returned from overseas on Monday night and said he was looking forward to telling his side of the story in the saga.

The Kangaroos said in a statement on Wednesday their board had decided Clarkson, who coached Hawthorn to four premierships, should start as planned.

Like Fagan, he originally announced he would stand aside when the claims were made.

North president Sonja Hood is confident Clarkson can do his job while he cooperates with the investigation.

"We support the process to provide a voice for all parties. That includes former Hawthorn players and their families, as well as former coaches and staff, including Alastair," Hood said.

"The board came to its decision after consulting with a range of stakeholders."

Brisbane's board approved Fagan's return on Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett said the club had been in contact with the families involved to understand their issues.

With AAP

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