A media war has erupted after North Melbourne great David King let rip at Kane Cornes over his comments regarding 19-year-old Jason Horne-Francis since the teen has been booed in the AFL. Despite being a home game for Port, Horne-Francis was routinely booed by sections of the Adelaide Oval crowd every time he touched the ball in his team's 14-point win over the Western Bulldogs in Gather Round.
This echoed the treatment at other grounds since the No.1 draft pick from 2021 moved from North Melbourne in a four-club mega trade before the season. Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkey jumped to the defence of Horne-Francis on Saturday after the game and blasted the 'embarrassing' behaviour from members of the crowd.
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However, former player Cornes went one step further and lambasted the treatment of Horne-Francis from fans. “The treatment from some of the North Melbourne supporters towards Horne-Francis has been disgraceful, and continues to be disgraceful," he said on Cornes said on Nine’s Sunday Footy Show.
"And they’ve got to have a look at themselves as well. He’s left the footy club now. The North Melbourne fans can let it go and focus on what is there now.
“And all the clips on social media that people keep clipping up to highlight some deficiencies in his game - it was a line in the sand moment, the club’s sick of it.”
Despite Corners' passionate defence of Horne-Francis, not all in the media were satisfied with his comments. North Melbourne great King defended the supporters over the booing scandal and called out Corners for flaming the drama.
"The treatment from some of the North Melbourne supporters towards Jason Horne-Francis has been disgraceful."@kanecornes after Ken Hinkley went in to bat for the Port young gun. #9AFLSFS | @Channel9 pic.twitter.com/Xd9UvKOUAZ
— Footy on Nine (@FootyonNine) April 16, 2023
Speaking on Fox Footy's First Crack, King took aim at Cornes and called out his persistent comments over Horne-Francis regarding an ice bath drama. “What were the origins of this? You’ve got to cut to the chase. Kane Cornes put this on the radar with the rubbish about ice baths, that he was sacked from North Melbourne for not taking an ice bath,” King said.
“And that flared the nostrils of the North Melbourne fans, and they’ve been going backwards and forth at each other for six months, and unfortunately Jason Horne-Francis has been the sole victim in all of this.
“It’s built a tension and a passion and a rage that wasn’t really there. I think the North Melbourne fans were happy to part, ‘alright, it doesn’t always work out for every player that gets drafted, he wants to go home, get the big deal’.
“We sat on (AFL) 360 last year and we said you know what if you want to go, go, we can work on getting the next person in the door and we’ll go again. No-one’s bigger than the footy club, you go again. But the rage was started the moment hashtag ice bath was put out there."
JHF was traded for missing an ice bath so I don’t hold out a lot of hope for Tarryn unfortunately https://t.co/Ixp5AL9irW
— Kane Cornes (@kanecornes) January 18, 2023
Coach Ken Hinkey defends Horne-Francis
On Saturday after the game, the Port Adelaide coach jumped to the defence of his teenage player, which saw him star in his team's 14 point win- 10.10 (70) to 8.8 (56) - on Saturday night during Gather Round. "Jason Horne-Francis is 19," Hinkley said.
"Some part of it is really annoying me, about the way people are treating him, it's annoying me. If you're treating my 19-year-old son the way some people have treated him, I would be embarrassed by my performance if I was those people.
"I think it has been really unfair."
Horne-Francis, citing homesickness, demanded a trade from North Melbourne despite being contracted to the Kangaroos for this season. The Power swooped on the prodigious talent, who is averaging 18.5 disposals a game for the South Australian club and had another strong showing against the Bulldogs, 11 disposals, seven contested possessions, five inside 50s and four clearances just in the fourth quarter.
"The kid made a courageous decision to come home," Hinkley added. Let the kid play footy. He's 19." The Port coach then suggested the media were culpable for the way the 19-year-old is treated by rival fans.
"I am talking about people who write stories every week, who talk stories every week, and I'm talking about the treatment that they (the crowd) gave him at times tonight," he added. "Without making a big deal of it, the kid is trying, he's giving his best."
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