St Kilda coach plays down Ball factor - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

St Kilda coach plays down Ball factor

By Roger Vaughan 06/04/2010 05:46:35 PM Comments (0)

St Kilda coach Ross Lyon has declared Luke Ball's controversial departure "water under the bridge" ahead of the Friday night's AFL blockbuster against Collingwood.

Ball will be a focus for the clash between the two unbeaten teams following his decision to leave the Saints and join the Magpies through the draft.

St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt said in the off-season it was disappointing that Ball had left the club and Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse countered that the onballer had not jumped ship.

There was some on-field niggle when Ball played against his old club in round one of the NAB Cup, but Lyon says he is only one of several AFL players to move to another team.

"It's sort-of weird seeing him run around, but that's almost six months ago now," Lyon said on Tuesday.

"There's obviously been a lot of interest, a lot of opinion, all those things.

"But ... Shaun Burgoyne, one of the greatest midfielders in the country, is at Hawthorn, Luke Ball has recent history at St Kilda and a respected part of the club for a long time, he's now at Collingwood.

"Darren Jolly, a premiership player, almost an All-Australian ruckman (is) running around for Collingwood.

"So it's not unusual that players change clubs, no-one enjoys at times players leaving, but that's water under the bridge ... there's certainly no ill-feeling."

Friday night will be a massive test for the Saints and Magpies, who are rated this year as premiership contenders.

The Saints have opened their season with a tight win over Sydney and a 104-point demolition of North Melbourne.

After beating pre-season premiers the Western Bulldogs in round one, Collingwood fell over the line last Saturday against lowly Melbourne.

"We like being on the big stage, Friday night, the footy world tuned in and two quality teams - it's great," Lyon said.

"We have a lot of improvement left in us, no doubt about it ... different opposition throws up different challenges.

"Both of us are clearly now mature teams and both top-four teams, it's going to be a stronger challenge, you would think."

As the Saints strive to improve on last year's grand final defeat, Lyon can relate to comments from Geelong coach Mark Thompson.

After Monday's outstanding win over Hawthorn, Thompson spoke of how their upset 2008 grand final loss continued to drive the Cats.

"To hear them talk about the pain (stimulating) them, hopefully that can do the same thing to this group," Lyon said.

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