North Melbourne coach David Noble is not concerned by Jason Horne-Francis putting contract talks on hold and has disputed reports the No.1 draft pick was sanctioned by the Kangaroos for flying home for Mother’s Day.
It was revealed this week Horne-Francis had gone back to Adelaide after the Kangaroos’ round-eight game against Fremantle.
North players were given time away from the club that weekend after facing the Dockers in Perth on a Friday night, with their next game eight days away.
Horne-Francis did not play the next week, with the club saying the 18-year-old had hamstring tightness.
Reports then emerged Horne-Francis had been suspended by the Kangaroos for not informing them he was returning to see family in South Australia.
But Noble emphatically shot down those claims during a wide-ranging press conference at Arden St on Thursday.
“He went home to see his mum … the club didn’t know he went home,” Noble said.
“He didn’t get into trouble, he wasn’t suspended.
“We sat down with him and said there’s protocols and what happens if he’s drug tested and if they don’t know his whereabouts, then the club actually gets fined.
“There’s an understanding from an 18-year-old, he’s got to report that but there’s no issue with him going home.
“I’ve spoken to him several times during the week just to check in and see if he’s OK.
“He understands that there are certain elements he still needs to learn.”
Horne-Francis, through his management, will not be discussing a contract extension with the club he arrived at in last year’s draft until at least the end of the season.
That insistence has caused fierce speculation around the powerful midfielder’s long-term future as the Kangaroos struggle at 1-9 following an eight-game losing streak.
“It’s not an unusual situation for a first-round player to not sign his contract, I don’t see that as an issue,” Noble said.