Another new deal for Sheffield Steelers veteran Jonathan Phillips

Jonathan Phillips is on course to reach a mind-boggling 1,000th game for Sheffield Steelers in the upcoming season.

Friday, 10th June 2022, 6:00 am

The Sheffield Steelers' captain has been handed yet another contract extension at the club he joined in 2006.

It was hardly a taxing decision on coach Aaron Fox, despite the fact the athlete will turn 40 next month.

Like other team bosses before him, Fox recognises the winger as his Mr Reliable.

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Jonathan Phillips is to stay on at Sheffield Steelers after agreeing a new contract

His professionalism and total belief in the Steelers' cause will likely never be completely mirrored by any other player.

And after icing in 971 games for Sheffield, he should easily reach the 1,000th mark around about January, as long as he steers clear of injury.

Fox said: "Jono coming back for me was still an absolute no-brainer.

"The level of professionalism, his work ethic and passion for our club, which he brings daily, have made this decision every year since I have arrived a pretty easy one.

"We had a good chat after the season on him still being hungry to do what it takes and he is definitely not ready to close this chapter which was all I needed to hear.

"He gives me everything he has in every shift and was a huge contributor in a lot of key situations for us.

"It’s great to have number 20 back for another year."

Phillips says retirement has never occurred to him.

"I broke my sternum and four ribs last year and only took a week off.

"There is plenty of hunger, desire and championships left in me" said the Welshman.

"When I wake up and all that has gone then the decision will be easy but I love to train, love to play, and love winning with the Steelers

"I'm back in the gym right now working with Mike Mawer and all our focus is on winning as a team. I'm excited for training camp to start, for the dressing room to be full and for the games to come thick and fast"

The Great Britain captain will be looking to go one better than last year, when Sheffield's title dream and play off campaign fizzled out.

Meanwhile, Steelers' owner Tony Smith is excited at the prospect of the club's new "Tron" big-screen video wall and scoreboard at the rink...but a little less comfortable about the finances behind it.

"The old one was coming to the end of its life, actually we bought it second-hand from Meadowhall way back in 2012. It's been a struggle to fire it up sometimes, so we invested in a new one with more flexibility."

The charitable trust which runs the Arena is due to hand it back to the council in two years time.

"Sheffield Council haven't got any money to help finance this" said Smith.

He said Nottingham Council had invested heavily on video technology but "Sheffield Council couldn't find it."

The new Tron was built in China and is due to be installed in late July.

The club has used the same suppliers before, acquiring a big screen for the Steelers' bar in Birley Moor Road.

Smith's off-ice team has also been working on accommodation for the incoming imports.

Last season, they were installed in 10 apartments in the Division Street area.

A new "all inclusive" deal has been struck not far from there for next season, where all services, utilities, wifi and TV bills will be included.