SHEFFIELD STEELERS: Side cost a fortune, but it is worth every penny!

New boy: Simon Ferguson trains at  the Arena.' Picture: dean atkins
New boy: Simon Ferguson trains at the Arena.' Picture: dean atkins
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STEELERS’ owner Tony Smith says he is spending more than 20 per cent extra on his player budget this season compared with last - and it’s money well spent.

Smith describes the team building process - which includes this week’s arrival of Simon Ferguson and Chris Frank - as a “very expense exercise.”

But he added: “It is worth the money. I am absolutely delighted with the team although I think there is more to come from them.

“The fans seem to like it as ticket sales have been increasing, which gives you an indication.

“I have seen flashes of brilliance, but I know they are still learning from each other and they will only get better.

“OK, they have had the odd mental lapses playing against some of the so-called lesser teams, but that does happen in sport.”

Smith said he believed Sheffield, Nottingham Panthers and Belfast Giants were roughly on a par in budget terms, with Coventry Blaze and Braehead Clan not far behind.

Tomorrow, his two latest assets are unveiled.

Ferguson and Frank flew in from the States on Wednesday and will be ice against Edinburgh Capitals.

Captain Jonathan Phillips said: “I think like anyone you look forward to new guys arriving.

“Even experienced guys like myself get excited hearing stories of the new players and what they can bring your team.

“It’s no different this time. These signings have come at a welcome time.

“Being without Jim Jorgenson for three months would have hurt but Frank coming in is a massive help. I found him very hard to play against last year.

“I think he is naturally nasty, he seemed keen on finishing every hit with a bit of extra venom.

“I think (goalie) Johnny DeCaro will like him as I don’t see to many people standing in front of his net. Frank is a player that has no problem moving people from the crease, legally or illegally.

“I think he will bring some edge to the back end, I think he really enjoys the physical side of the game.

“He always had a smile on his face after running me over!

“Ferguson is an another interesting one. We have heard good things from those he played against on our team. Tommy Sestito said nothing but good things about him.

“I think he enjoys the rough stuff as well. We have had a look at a few of his fighting videos and he has gone toe to toe with all of the American leagues tough guys.

“You don’t play for so long in the AHL without being a very good player. The addition of new players gives you a boost.

“We know that this is the team that will see us through the year and has to deliver.

Steeldogs: Grassroots