SHEFFIELD STEELERS: Time for Jason Hewitt to assume central role for Steelers

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SHEFFIELD Steelers’coach Ryan Finnerty is demanding a fully committed season from Jason Hewitt next term, saying the player must get stuck in rather than play “on the perimeter”.

On his day, Hewitt is a terrier forward who can upset the rhythm of opposition teams, agitate rivals and weigh in with his share of points. Last season saw the ‘British Bulldog’, 28, impress in bursts. He scored fewer goals - he found the net just once in the final nine matches - and took fewer penalty minutes compared with his previous two campaigns.

Finnerty says he felt the Mancunian “played alright” in a team that failed to match expectations.

Finnerty said: “Hewy needs to have a big year. His role will be more defined.

“He plays his best when he’s in the game getting under the skin of others. If you don’t notice Hewy then he’s off his game.

“He can’t be a perimeter guy, he needs to be in the fight at all times. Guys should not want to play against him.

“Hewy has the ability to set himself apart from other British players.

“He’s working hard and on the puck he’s at his best. He can’t afford to be passive out there, we need a lot of energy out of him. He can be our Most Valuable Player when he’s committed to his role.”

The GB man will be starting his seventh season at Sheffield in autumn.

Steven Birnstill, who Steelers do not want back, has tweeted: “Thank you to all the fans in Sheffield. Always made it fun to play whether it was at home or on the road.”