SHEFFIELD STEELERS: Jonathan Phillips leads British contingent in hunt to reclaim championship

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SKIPPER Jonathan Phillips has secured a seventh-straight contract with Sheffield Steelers and will be joined by fellow Brits Jason Hewitt and Lee Esders.

Defenceman Mark Thomas is also expected to re-sign, although Tom Squires has left for Sheffield Steeldogs.

Phillips, a GB forward, joined Steelers in 2006 from Cardiff Devils and has been captain for five years. The Welshman is desperate for a trophy-winning campaign free of injury after serious knee problems.

Winger Hewitt will also be looking to right the wrongs of last season, when the club ended empty-handed.

His last match ended in a personal own-goal low, but he is a gritty, honest contributor and will be looking to score more than last year, when his output dipped slightly.

Coach Ryan Finnerty said: “Jono is our leader and Hewy our heartbeat. With many new players coming in it’s important our core remained.

“Lee was a gamble last year coming from Hull but the guy showed more work ethic and desire than pretty much any other player.

“He fought his way into the top nine forwards and refused to let go. Lee could have signed elsewhere.

“And when we signed Colin Shields I explained he again would be coming into camp as a number 10 - giving him the option to move on if he wanted. The response was that he worked into my top nine and that he’d do so again.”

Phillips said: “Finner is taking the club in the right direction. Bringing Shields in, re-signing Jeff Legue early are all signs that we’ll be stronger. Hewitt returning is important as he leads by example. Lee deserved his contract renewal. He will become more important to us.”