Fitness race for two Steeler import stars

More focused: Steelers need to find form after Lee Esders and his team-mates tied with Steeldogs
More focused: Steelers need to find form after Lee Esders and his team-mates tied with Steeldogs
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STEELERS face a race against time to get two impact players fit for Saturday’s home league opener against Dundee.

Rod Sarich and Neil Clark were both missing from the friendly against Sheffield Steeldogs on Tuesday.

Sarich is the bigger concern, says coach Ryan Finnerty. It is thought to be a lower back problem sustained at Belfast.

“Roddy has got an upper body injury; we’re assessing him day to day. We’ll see how he progresses and hopefully have him back. Not playing Clarky (against Dogs) was a preventative thing. He will be ready.” Clark is thought to have suffered a slight groin tweak.

Steelers surrendered a 2-1 lead to a 3-2 deficit before finally seeing off a game Steeldogs outfit. Finnerty wasn’t overly concerned about the performance, but admitted his side must go up several notches to win this weekend.

“We had fun out there and relaxed, we didn’t put a lot of emphasis on systems or anything,” he said. “It was a glorified practice. Our guys responded in the third period and got back to our old style, but credit to Steeldogs they have got a good team and will do well this year. We got in some tough practice sessions this week so any complacency or bad habits that transpired will be drilled out of us.”

One player who won’t need stimulating is Jason Hewitt, newly installed assistant captain. “Home form is critical if your to win a championship and getting out of the blocks quickly is key,” he said.

“You have to make your mark right off the bat. It’s a bit different for some of the new guys. Back in Canada the regular season is just a warm up for the play offs. Here the league is everything and we have made sure everyone is aware that every game is crucial. Two points in September is every bit as important as two in March. All the new guys have bought into that already.

“They understood quickly that we come from that British football background where the league means the most. Where you want to be known as the best team over the whole year not just the last three weeks.”