Skipper back to defend Steelers title - VIDEO

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RYAN Finnerty is celebrating the confirmed return of his skipper Jonathan Phillips - but may have to fight a rearguard battle to retain ace sniper Joey Talbot.

Phillips today joined Ashley Tait and Jason Hewitt on the list of Brits who will return to the championship winning side. Injury wrecked much of the Welsh forward’s season last term, but his contribution to the cause has not been overlooked by Finnerty. Mark Thomas and Tom Squires are also likely to re-commit soon.

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On the overall picture of recruiting, Finnerty said that, after the Brits had been dealt with, the position of imports would be sorted. “Everything is going well, we want to retain as much as we want from last year’s squad.”

Jerramie Domish, who has been approached by an Italian side, has yet to make his mind up, said the coach. “We look forward to talking to him. A lot of the guys are looking into Europe at this time. The season is just over, they want to explore their options; you’ve got to give them that time. At the end of the day you want guys who want to be here.”

On Talbot, he said: “Time will tell...he’s looking at retiring back home and bring up his young ‘un. We are going to give Joe some time and let him figure out what he wants. He is a great player and we’d love to have him back. But he has to look to the future and see what’s best for his family. I’d love to have him signed up right now! But you can’t pressure these guys into these things.”

See Finnerty on video at hockey