North Melbourne's rocky start to the season has hit another snag off the field, with number 1 draft pick Jason Horne-Francis stepping away from contract negotiations with the club, just eight games into his career, per reports from SEN's Sam Edmund.

The 18-year-old was reportedly close to signing a new long-term extension on the eve of the season, before his AFL debut, but the two parties have come no closer to reaching an agreement for North to secure the services of the rising star.

The number 1 draft pick has excelled in his first year in the competition, averaging 18.6 disposals, 3.3 tackles and 4.9 clearances per game, doing plenty to justify the hype around his junior career.

Unlike their young star, North Melbourne have struggled for much of the opening two months of 2022, approaching Round 9 with a 1-7 record as they sink to 17th on the ladder - sitting just above West Coast on percentage.

Coming off a 78-point loss to Fremantle in Round 8, their fourth loss this season by a margin of at least 60 points, Edmund's report suggests that Horne-Francis' team have put contract negotiations off until at least the end of the season as the Kangaroos struggle to improve.

While Horne-Francis is contracted until the end of 2023, the Kangaroos have plenty of signatures to find before the end of the year - with 15 players, including Todd Goldstein and Tristian Xerri, on deals that expire in 2022.

North Melbourne next travel to Tasmania to face Port Adelaide in Round 9, with Horne-Francis looking to back up the performance that earned him a rising star nomination in Round 7.