Port Adelaide eventually got their man in former No.1 draft pick Jason Horne-Francis, but the AFL world has raised eyebrows after the Power offered the 19-year old a lengthy contract extension.
In his debut season with North Melbourne, the midfielder endured a tumultuous year as the Kangaroos limped to a two-win wooden spoon campaign.
Reportedly clashing at times with teammates and being dropped ahead of what would have been his first AFL outing in his home state of South Australia, Horne-Francis asked for a trade to the Power soon after the season ended.
What unfolded was a complicated four-team trade, which saw the Kangaroos net picks 2, 3, 40 and 43 in the upcoming 2022 draft, as well as Port Adelaide's first-round pick next year.
In exchange, and in part to facilitate other deals, Horne-Francis heads to the Power along with a future third-round pick that came from Fremantle, while North's No.1 pick this year goes to the GWS Giants.
The deal marked the first time in 21 years that a club has traded the first overall pick, the last time being when Fremantle traded the pick used to draft Luke Hodge to Hawthorn in exchange for Trent Croad and Luke McPharlin.
While the Kangaroos have copped plenty of criticism for trading away the youngster after one troubled season, Port Adelaide's extension for Horne-Francis has also raised eyebrows.
Dockers great Paul Haselby told SEN he believed it was demonstrably too soon to commit to him on a long-term basis.
“That’s ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous,” Hasleby said.
“He had one year, a troubled year, and now you’re giving him a six-year deal?
"Hopefully the homesickness thing sort of works itself out because he is going home to family in South Australia, but he was challenged on a number of fronts by teammates and coaches and he spat the (dummy) on occasion.
“You don’t want to be giving six years to a player like that. You want to be confident that he is 100 per cent going to see out that six-year deal.”
"I detest long term contracts. They rarely work for clubs. I can see why they have done this one. One year is part of his 2nd year of his rookie contract. So it is essentially a 5 year deal. He is 19, he will be 25 when this contract ends."
— AFL Trade Radio (@traderadio) October 10, 2022
Kangaroos ripped over Jason Horne-Francis trade
On the other side of the deal, North Melbourne have been slammed by club great David King, who believes they were 'dudded' in the deal.
King said it was an embarrassing look for the Kangaroos, after they turned down an offer for the No.1 pick in this season's draft from Adelaide prior to the draft last year for the highly-rated SANFL midfielder.
“Horne-Francis was pick one – gone, pick one this year – gone. They’ve given up two pick ones for two and three. I don’t understand it at all,” he told Fox Footy.
“You can’t cry about spilt milk. They've been dudded.
“It just puts a full stop on an awful period, I’m extremely frustrated by this.
“I just don’t know at what stage North Melbourne will decide to invest in a tall forward of note.”
Kangaroos list boss Brady Rawlings insisted the club did not see signs of potential homesickness in the teenager before they plucked Horne-Francis out of his home state of South Australia last November.
"We reflect on our decision all the time, and with all the background we did on Jason, none of this came out at all - it was actually quite the opposite," Rawlings told RSN radio on Tuesday.
"All the information in front of us was extremely positive.
"His form in the first six, seven weeks was probably better than it was in the back end of the year when he probably wasn't happy and struggling away from home.
"The pull home for Jason is extremely strong ... but we think this is a bit of a one-off case."
Despite finishing bottom of the ladder in the last two seasons, North will not have a No.1 draft pick on their list next year.
The Kangaroos would not have secured this year's likely No.1 draft pick regardless, with Will Ashcroft tied to the Brisbane Lions as a father-son selection.
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