HALIFAX assistant coach Damian Ball has admitted Brian Noble has “raised the bar” as the club prepare for Sunday’s Co-operative Championship clash at Featherstone.
Fax head to Post Office Road to face Daryl Powell’s side on the back of a one-win-from-seven record which includes a 32-22 home defeat by second-placed Rovers earlier in the spring.
But with Noble kicking off his coaching partnership with his former Bradford protege Matt Calland on Tuesday night, Ball confirmed a noticeable change of atmosphere at the Shay.
“I don’t think anyone should expect Brian to work miracles, but people are raising the bar,” said Ball.
“He came in on Tuesday night, we had a meeting before training for an hour and I know he’d already had a couple of hours with Matt earlier in the day.
“He spoke to the boys after the video session and was really engaging.
“He’s got that presence about him, that aura you’d expect from someone who’s coached Great Britain.
“He’s got a different slant on things and I think we’re all looking forward to working with him.
“He was heavily involved in the coaching on Tuesday night, which is good for everyone, and there was a real intensity there.
“That’s something we’ve had at times this year, but on other days less so, and I think that’s been reflected in our performances: sometimes we’ve been good, sometimes we’ve dropped off a little bit.
“The players definitely lifted it, it was really physical and I think there will have been some bashed-up bodies yesterday morning.
“There is no doubt that Brian is going to be a major asset to this club.”
Whether or not that will be enough to inspire a change of fortune at Post Office Road - a venue which saw two 40-point losses in 2010 against the club Fax eventually beat to win last autumn’s Grand Final - remains to be seen.
“Featherstone is a massive test,” said Ball, who believes last weekend’s 46-34 Challenge Cup loss to Bradford represented a “step in the right direction”, at least in attack.
“They have been a real force over the last 18 months, but we really need to get back on track.
“We need to perform and try and get some points on the board.
“It’s a major, major task, because it is such a difficult place to go.
“You can tell the players are up for the challenge though.
“It’s going to be tough, and there is going to be some hard work along the way, but the rewards are there for us.
“There were definitely positives from the Bradford game: To score 34 points against a Super League team is a good thing, although we might reflect on it and think it is a game we could have won.
“But defending our own line has been a problem for us all season and I know it’s something we are going to be focusing on now.”
To see more of the video interview with Damian Ball, plus all the tries from Fax’s Challenge Cup derby against Bradford, go to www.halifaxcourier.co.uk