Ball: Focus is on Eagles

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HALIFAX assistant coach Damian Ball insists today’s Super League announcement will not distract the club from Sunday’s high-pressure Co-operative Championship clash with Sheffield at Bramall Lane.

The Rugby Football League were due to announce at lunchtime which of the three Championship applicants - Fax, Widnes and Barrow - will be elevated to the top flight in 2012, with the Vikings the red hot favourites.

But while the news has potentially massive implications off the field, Ball has played down the impact it will have on Fax’s football staff as they aim to open their 2011 league account at the third attempt in South Yorkshire.

“The Super League thing is something that is going on off the field and while everyone is aware of the announcement, we are really focusing on the position we are in on the field and what we have to do to get out of it,” said Ball.

“What the RFL do is out of our control now. We will obviously celebrate if we get in and look at what we need to do for next time if we don’t.

“The rumour mill has been spinning for months and months about it being Widnes and I don’t think the players have any expectations right now.

“Then again, you hear about one team getting in now and then potentially another in the summer.

“There is so much speculation around and we just can’t afford to be distracted by that right now.”

Fax are currently adrift at the foot of the league ladder with one point from a possible six and back to back losses against Toulouse and Featherstone.

“It’s an unusual position for us at the moment,” said Ball.

“It’s only two games, but I think the players and the coaches are all aware that we are under pressure to perform better than we have.

“We have been putting a good 20 minutes together here and there but not going on and making that into an 80 minute performance.

“We have seen improvements and we feel we are heading in the right direction, but Sunday is another difficult game for us.

“The competition is improving all the time and if you don’t turn up, you will get beaten.”

One player Fax will not have to contend with this weekend is Eagles’ prop Liam Higgins.

The former Castleford front rower, who has played all eight games for Sheffield in 2011, is joining Wakefield Trinity.