Port Adelaide youngster Jason Horne-Francis has stated the booing from rival fans can "get into my head a little bit", but has been left perplexed why club supporters for sides other than North Melbourne are jeering him at games.
Horne-Francis made the highly-documented move to Alberton after one season at North Melbourne, who had recruited the South Australian with the first overall pick in the 2021 National Draft.
The move sparked expected outrage from Kangaroos fans, with Horne-Francis trading the blue and white for black and teal after a difficult first year in the AFL.
The trade, which saw North Melbourne acquire Picks 2 & 3 for last year's draft along with the Power's first-round selection for 2023, would see four clubs involved in the mammoth deal after the teenager's desire to move back to his home state and be closer with family.
While Horne-Francis understands why "disappointed" Kangaroos fans may boo his performance, the 19-year-old was left confused when fans at Gather Round last week offered similar treatment when he played against the Western Bulldogs at Adelaide Oval.
The boos came after similar incidents occurred during matches against Collingwood at the MCG and Sydney at the SCG weeks prior, with Horne-Francis telling The Age he hears the jeers and is left bewildered by them.
"I don't think many players like it when they get booed. I try not to take it in, but I do hear it," Horne-Francis said.
"With all the pressure on the outside I can let it get into my head a little bit.
"I understand the North supporters' side of it. I was a young kid and I made the courageous decision to come home, and they are understandably disappointed. I'm just a bit confused about why Collingwood, Sydney and Bulldogs supporters ... why they would boo me.
"My dad always said to me he hoped I wouldn't go No. 1 in the draft and me then being the 18-year-old was always like: ‘Yeah sure, Dad.' But I'm seeing what he meant now."
Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley strongly condemned the attention Horne-Francis has received in his short stint with the Power, expressing his outrage toward unnamed figures of the media.
A father figure to Horne-Francis, Hinkley took time out of last week's win against the Bulldogs to speak with his new young star directly, before further defending Horne-Francis at the post-match press conference.
"Jason Horne-Francis is 19. Some part of it's really annoying me, about the way people are treating him."
— 7AFL (@7AFL) April 15, 2023
Shortly after the game, where Horne-Francis had a large impact in the final term to help steer his side to victory, the midfielder reached out to his coach to express his appreciation.
"After that game I wanted to go and thank him for everything he said to me during the game and what he did after the game," the former No.1 pick said.
"A lot of people saw him come up and speak to me and I'm glad people saw that. He's like a dad to me and people saw that. This has been a rollercoaster year for me and for the club, but that was a very proud moment for me, and it made me happy.
"...Ken told me the other night that he knew I wasn't having a big game, but I could have a big quarter.
"To be honest I was so happy we'd won, but I didn't think I'd been anything special until Ken came up to me. And I didn't realise he'd said anything at his press conference until someone told me and I had a listen and it meant a lot to me."
Horne-Francis and Port Adelaide will clash with West Coast at Adelaide Oval on Saturday at 1:15pm local time.