Luke Ball has to prove himself: Magpies - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Luke Ball has to prove himself: Magpies

By Robert Grant 18/02/2010 05:58:53 PM Comments (0)

St Kilda midfielder Lenny Hayes says former skipper Luke Ball has barely rated a mention at the club, while the even hotter topic of Andrew Lovett has been put off-limits.

Ball's Collingwood debut looms as the focal point of the Magpies' pre-season clash with his former club at Etihad Stadium on Friday night, while Lovett's sacking provides an uncomfortable backdrop.

But club officials banned media from asking Hayes about the Lovett saga at a pre-match press conference on Thursday, while he said for the Saints, Ball was now just another opponent.

"We've moved on, I'm sure he has as well," Hayes said.

"There might be a few butterflies for him tomorrow night, but he's a Collingwood player now and we don't treat him any differently to any other Collingwood player or any other opposition player.

"It will just be like any other game, he's not the first player to leave this club and play for another team against us and he probably won't be the last.

"Luke was obviously a very good player for the club, but it was a long time ago, quite a few months ago, that he moved on and as a club we haven't really spoken about him much."

The Magpies swooped on the much-admired former Saints best and fairest in the pre-season draft after the two clubs could not agree on a trade for the disenchanted midfielder.

But Collingwood's Shane O'Bree expected Ball would be more interested in proving himself to new teammates than proving a point to his old ones.

He said Ball and fellow Magpies star recruit, ex-Sydney ruckman Darren Jolly, who will also play against the Saints, would be a huge asset.

"Darren's a big ruckman and was probably unlucky not to be All Australian last year," O'Bree said.

"Luke's a hard-nosed midfielder, I'm sure he's going to help the likes of myself out."

Collingwood assistant coach Gavin Brown said Ball had to prove himself, but had started well.

"We've been so impressed with his professionalism, his diligence," Brown said.

"He's well and truly earned his stripes so far, as everyone has - but as normal, you've got to continue to earn them."

He tipped Ball would experience a few nerves, saying "he's only human", but doubted he would receive extra attention from his ex-teammates.

"I'm not sure that there will be. I'm sure that they respect him and they've got a game to win as we do so I don't know whether there'll be too much of that going on to be honest," he said.

"I think it's the furthest thing from Luke's mind."

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