Dowd and out!

Steelers exit: Rob Dowd.

Steelers exit: Rob Dowd.

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RYAN Finnerty believes his best chance of success as new Sheffield Steelers player-coach is in retaining his top British players - yet he’s been hit with an early setback over wantaway Rob Dowd.

The club has been trying to tie their home-grown stars to new contracts.

Several clubs have looked at Dowd, Jonathan Phillips, Ashley Tait, Jason Hewitt and Mark Thomas.

Yesterday Finnerty said: “The Brits are the core of the team along with guys (imports) like Rod Sarich who has been here a while.

“Look at Dowdy for example - how many trophies has he won in his short career?”

But, last night, Dowd appears to have agreed terms with Belfast Giants and is probably the first Steeler to move elsewhere.

Finnerty had said before then: “If you keep them together you keep the room together.”

Steelers’ top Brits ice for Great Britain this weekend in two friendlies against Holland. They will go on from there to take part in the World Championships in Ukraine (April 17 to 23.) The new coach wanted all these players snapped up before they go off abroad.

Finnerty, who replaces Ben Simon who has flown home to the US, admits his appointment will surprise some. “It may be perceived as a risk by some; there will be doubters” he recognised. “But Ben was a rookie and he did a great job. I’ve learned a lot about the game in the last few years and don’t see any problems. I am confident I can put a good product out there.”

Finnerty said he’d had some misgivings about leaving Cardiff Devils, where he played for two years after leaving Sheffield. “They had a great team and I have nothing bad to say about what they accomplished last season. The fans were great too.”

Finnerty said he did not know whether ex-Devils team-mate Brad Voth would retire this year. Asked if Voth might be a candidate for Sheffield, he replied: “I don’t know, I think he’s Cardiff property. Who knows?”

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