Horne-Francis looms as AFL top draft pick

North Melbourne are expected to take Jason Horne-Francis with pick No.1 at the AFL draft.
North Melbourne are expected to take Jason Horne-Francis with pick No.1 at the AFL draft.

North Melbourne are poised to snap up Jason Horne-Francis with the first live pick of the AFL draft but but are yet to officially rule out first bidding on father-son prospects Nick Daicos and Sam Darcy at No.1.

South Adelaide on-baller Horne-Francis recently had 24 disposals, three goals, 18 contested possessions, 11 clearances and 10 score involvements in the SANFL preliminary final and appears the stand-out player not tied to another club.

North football boss Brady Rawlings said Horne-Francis had "all the attributes" the Kangaroos wanted and could "change a game".

"He is clearly right up the top with Nick Daicos and Sam Darcy throughout the year, and there's a couple of others that are very appealing as well at that pointy end," Rawlings said on Thursday.

"I think what you saw from Jason, especially in that last month of footy in the SANFL, we have seen that for two years at SANFL level.

"Going into this season, he was well and truly at the top and he has had a terrific year ... you can't put any better performances together than what Jason Horne-Francis has done over the last couple of years."

Adelaide were reported to have thrown trade suggestions at the Kangaroos in a bid to secure Horne-Francis.

But Rawlings said they'd never really considered a deal, especially given the unknown position of future draft picks compared to the guarantee of the club's first No.1 pick.

"Not really, (no pick swaps tempted us), no," he said.

"I think what's been reported, makes it sound a lot more appealing than what the deals actually were - and they were spit-ball deals as well."

Rawlings wouldn't be drawn on whether the Kangaroos would make Collingwood pay the maximum price for Daicos, son of club great Peter, or the Western Bulldogs for Darcy, son of former skipper and board member Luke.

"Over the next couple of weeks our recruiting team will start crunching the numbers a lot more in terms of our order... whoever we've got at pick one in the draft, we'll call their name out," Rawlings said.

Collingwood expected a bid for Daicos to come in the opening handful of draft picks but were uncertain whether he would be pick No.1.

"That's a question for North - we don't know at this stage," Magpies football boss Graham Wright said.

"But there's been a lot of talk about the boy from SA (Horne-Francis), who looks like an outstanding player as well.

"I'm sure the bid for Nick will come in the first three or four picks, I'd be surprised if it's not in that area.

"We've prepared for the worst, but hope for the best."

The Magpies stacked up on second and third-round draft picks to have enough to pay for Daicos without affecting next year's draft.

They expect to draft two or three other players, while Wright was also "hopeful" fringe big man Mason Cox would choose to stay at Collingwood.

Australian Associated Press