SHEFFIELD STEELERS: Colin Shields is free to sign for title rivals

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SHEFFIELD Steelers owner Tony Smith accepts he may well be powerless to stop League title-rivals Belfast Giants from recruiting Colin Shields.

The forward quit Steelers last week and hopes to re-join Giants, whom he has played for four previous seasons with.

Shields contract effectively allows him to go wherever he wants. Yet League owners have a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ not to employ another Elite team’s player unless there is consent from all parties. Smith said: “There is no contractual way of stopping Colin playing in Belfast or anywhere else. However there is an unwritten rule amongst owners to stop players jumping ship when the going gets tough. The rule is that a team wouldn’t take him without the absolute consent of the other party.”

Asked if he thought Giants would adhere to that, Smith replied: “We’ve spoken to them, they approached us, we quoted rule 305, which says unless both owners are in agreement then no player moves. It’s a League rule, but how enforceable it is remains to be seen. Personally, I wouldn’t let Colin move anywhere in the League, it is unfair on our fans.

On the issue of Shield’s decision, Smith said: “He said he didn’t like being shouted at and called out in the dressing room. I’ve heard two versions: Colin had just enough of Sheffield and Ryan Finnerty. And I’ve had another that Colin thought he could up sticks and go somewhere else.”