Jason Horne-Francis in action for North Melbourne in round 20 against Essendon at Marvel Stadium on July 31, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

NORTH Melbourne is set to drive a hard bargain for former No.1 pick Jason Horne-Francis, who has requested a trade and is eyeing Port Adelaide.

AFL.com.au broke the news of the request on Sunday night, and while one mooted trade offer is pick No.8 and a future first-rounder, North Melbourne head of footy Brady Rawlings wants more for the contracted South Australian.

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"I would have thought so, yeah. We've knocked back better than that in the past so I can't see why we'd take that as an option right now," Rawlings said.

"We've brought in a lot of 18-year-olds over the last three years so if we can become more mature as part of this deal, we'd certainly look at that as well.


"The pull of home is really strong. Obviously, each individual has a different family situation and I think the pull of home has been too strong for Jason and that's why they put the request in.

"I think any player you bring in from interstate, there's going to be some pull home at some stage. We see it each year. We backed ourselves in as a club that we could put the best environment in around him and we could get the best football out of him, but the pull home's just been too strong and that's why the request has come."

The Kangaroos insist both Adelaide and Port Adelaide are in the mix, but the Power are of the belief it's a choice of one for the dynamic midfielder.

"We got wind there was potential for Jason to come back to South Australia and things obviously progressed from there," Port Adelaide footy boss Chris Davies said.

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"We have an existing relationship with his family (step-father Fabian Francis played 119 SANFL and AFL games) and we met with Jason last week. We're really pleased he's expressed the want to come to Port Adelaide next year.

"He wants to come to Port Adelaide, 100 per cent.

Jason Horne-Francis after North Melbourne's loss to GWS at Marvel Stadium in round 18, 2022. Picture: AFL Media

"We've got a history of getting deals done where there's deals to be had, and I think in fairness to Brady he's also a person who's been fair and reasonable in these situations as well.

"In fairness, anyone who was looking at Jason throughout the year would have seen he was unsettled, for whatever reason. Things took a significant turn over the last week, so there's a process where you meet the player, you meet the family.

"As I said, we have an existing relationship with the family, so we probably had a little bit more of an 'in' than other clubs, but it certainly accelerated over the last 24 hours."

Jason Horne-Francis in action for North Melbourne against Gold Coast in round 23 at Marvel Stadium on August 20, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

Adelaide head of list management Justin Reid said his club was dedicated to landing Izak Rankine.

"He's keen to get back to South Australia, so we've obviously been in contact with his management group, but we understand the family ties at Port Adelaide. So it's a desire of his, but there's a lot to play out over the trade period," Reid said.

"Our focus is on Izak and getting Izak through the trade period, so we'll put his arms around him for the moment."


North Melbourne once again has the No.1 selection, but hasn't ruled out moving it on.

"We want to keep bringing top-end talent into our footy club. We want to become more mature as well, so you sort of want a bit of everything," Rawlings said.

"If the right deal was there and we could bring in two really good players for pick one then that's something we'd consider."

Jason Horne-Francis in action during North Melbourne's loss to GWS in round 13, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Rawlings is confident Horne-Francis would be able to successfully reintegrate at the Roos for the final year of his contract if a deal is not done.

"I think he'd be fine. He's got great relationships at our football club. He's tight with a lot of the young boys he was drafted with, so I don't see a problem but that's probably more of a question for Jason," he said.

"I still think if he was to be with us in 12 months' time, the value is still incredibly strong. He's as unique a player as you'll see. We've seen deals where players have been out of contract and actually achieve a bit more currency the next year."

Meanwhile, former North Melbourne coach David Noble has revealed he suspected Horne-Francis was in the sights of an Adelaide club just months into the 2022 season, but added he was never concerned the midfielder would not be at the Kangaroos next year.

"I certainly wasn't surprised to hear it," Noble told AFL.com.au's Damian Barrett on Continental Tyres AFL Trade Radio of Horne-Francis' trade request to Port Adelaide.

"We thought there was genuine interest mid-season (from both Adelaide clubs) ... but nothing substantial that we were ever concerned about.

"We actually spoke to the family about moving here and whether there was an option to continue to support (him). But there were no alarm bells in regards to him departing or asking for a trade."

Despite the teenager having a difficult first season at AFL level, Noble praised Horne-Francis and said he had embraced the scrutiny of being a top draft pick.


"He did, very much so," Noble said.

"He was one of the most determined and driven young men that I've had the pleasure of dealing with and was certainly embracing of being No.1. It didn't phase him at all.

"Did he embrace Melbourne? Yeah he did, and he certainly embraced North Melbourne and made some good friends. By the time I left, I felt there was a really clear direction for him to take."