Jason Horne-Francis Selected at Pick No.1

South's Jason Horne-Francis is congratulated by family and friends after being selected at Pick No.1. Picture - Ross Starkey


South Adelaide’s Jason Horne-Francis is the first South Australian in 15 years to be selected at pick No.1 in an AFL National Draft.

Chosen by North Melbourne with the opening selection of the 2021 NAB AFL Draft on Wednesday night, the dynamic Panthers utility is the first Croweater since Bryce Gibbs was picked at No.1 by Carlton in 2006.

The athletic 18-year-old is one of five South Australians to be rated at the top of their AFL Draft class – joining Martin Leslie (1986), Richard Lounder (1987), Clive Waterhouse (1995), Adam Cooney (2003) and Gibbs.

‘’They talk about (Michael) Voss and they talk about (Patrick) Dangerfield but he reminds me of Russell Ebert,’’ SANFL Head of Talent Brenton Phillips said of Horne-Francis, who will wear No.6 for the Kangaroos.

‘’He reminds me of Russell the way he has got some genuine power to get through the contest, and genuine power to take an overhead mark.

‘’And just the way he floats around the ground….it’s very similar.’’

Presented with his first Kangaroos guernsey by North Melbourne Hall of Famer Malcolm Blight, Horne-Francis was joined by Glenelg’s Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera in being selected in the first round of the AFL Draft.

The smooth-moving Tigers wingman was snapped up by St Kilda at pick No.11 after having an extensive meeting in Adelaide with the son of former Saint Terry Milera and nephew of Brownlow Medallist Gavin Wanganeen.

Central District’s intercept defender Leek Aleer was the third Croweater called in the first round, selected by GWS at Pick No.15.

Originally from South Sudan, the 20-year-old enjoyed a breakout season at League level with the Bulldogs as he developed his ability to read the play from defence.

‘’He reminds me of Russell Ebert, the way he has got some genuine power to get through the contest, and genuine power to take an overhead mark.
‘’And just the way he floats around the ground….it’s very similar.’’

SANFL Head of Talent Brenton Phillips on Jason Horne-Francis

Measuring in at 184cm and 78kg, Horne-Francis’ impressive second SANFL League season resulted in him averaging 17 disposals from his 20 games as he divided his time between the midfield and half-forward.

The captain of the Torrens University SA U19 team also kicked 15 goals for the year while averaging four marks, four tackles, three inside 50s and three clearances, to illustrate his all-round game.

A key cog in South’s third-placing this season, Horne-Francis saved his best to last when he produced a stunning Preliminary Final display which yielded 24 disposals, three goals and 11 clearances to underline his game-breaking ability.

‘’If you put a footy in front of him….it’s like getting a bone from a dog,’’ Phillips said.

‘’And that’s what he’s about, he’s just a competitive beast.’’

The remaining rounds of the 2021 NAB AFL Draft will be held on Thursday night, ahead of the AFL Rookie Draft on Friday afternoon.

South Australian No.1 AFL Draft Picks

Year Player SANFL Club AFL Club
1986 Martin Leslie Port Adelaide Brisbane
1987 Richard Lounder Central District Richmond
1995 Clive Waterhouse Port Adelaide Fremantle
2003 Adam Cooney West Adelaide Western Bulldogs
2006 Bryce Gibbs Glenelg Carlton
2021 Jason Horne-Francis South Adelaide North Melbourne

Glenelg’s Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera waits nervously for his name to be called in the AFL Draft. Picture – Ross Starkey

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