YORK City Knights have sternly rebuffed a two-for-one offer for in-form loose-forward Damian Ball.

National League One big-guns Hull Kingston Rovers wanted to take the 28-year-old former Dewsbury and Rochdale star to Craven Park in a swap deal involving two Robins players. But Knights chief executive Steve Ferres said the offer was "turned down flat".

The names of the Rovers players have not been revealed but the Press believes the offer on the table involved any two of several Robins, with current loan ranger Richard Wilson -- whom the Knights want to keep at Huntington Stadium permanently - among them.

"They offered two players for Damian, and it was flatly refused," Ferres told the Press.

"He's stated he is happy to be at the club and we're happy with what he's doing, and that's the end of the story. He's doing a great job, he's happy to be here and we're happy to have him."

The cheeky Rovers bid comes just a couple of weeks before they tackle the Knights in the semi-finals of the Arriva Trains Cup at Craven Park.

Ball is regarded by many as one of the best back-rows outside Super League and he is enjoying a fine season with the Knights, to whom he is contracted until the end of the campaign.

Ferres added: "We've got to put distractions away from us and that's a distraction."

Half-backs Danny Brough and Scott Rhodes are also believed to be catching the eye of Super League and NL1 clubs, though the Press understands that no approaches for the mini-maestros have been made.

Ferres said: "There's nothing any different to what it's always been with Danny and Scott. If Super league clubs aren't looking at them then, in my opinion, they should be.

"The performances they put in on Sunday, for example, showed what they're like. Defensively I don't think I've seen two half-backs tackle as tenaciously as those two. Apart from their attacking skills, their defensive effort was phenomenal -they are two of the littlest guys on the field but put in tremendous hits and their commitment was fantastic.

"I would imagine people would be looking at them, but there are other candidates, other players who are having great seasons, who people will be looking at.

"You would expect people to look at them just like you would expect us to look at players of other clubs."

As regards the Knights' search for new recruits, Ferres said it was continuing.

He explained: "We're thin on the ground with a squad of 21 - or 22 now we've got Johnny Wainhouse on loan - and, with injuries to Chris Smith, Jim Elston, Mick Ramsden and Dan Briggs, it's left us with only 18 fit players.

"Hopefully Dan Briggs will be fit this week but we're conscious we need to add one or two players in the next couple of weeks if we can."

Updated: 10:58 Tuesday, June 15, 2004