The thinking behind Sheffield Steelers' EIHL draft picks

The rationale behind Aaron Fox's Sheffield Steelers' draft picks wasn't merely about building a team to win the upcoming mini series.

Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 11:15 am

The head coach displayed a pragmatic nature, with one eye on the future, by selecting the likes of Alex Graham, Sam Jones and Ben Churchfield during the web-streamed recruitment process on Monday.

Fox could have gone for better-established names and, arguably, bought himself a better chance of winning the Government-endorsed tournament which starts on April 3.

But he is clearly focused on fostering a community feel at the club - he wants a nucleus of players committed to the cause and who will be part of their EIHL plans going forward into the 2021-22 campaign and beyond.

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"Honestly, I felt the most important part of this draft was making sure that I got Churchfield, Jones and Graham in Sheffield for this five week mini series" Fox told The Star.

"If you look at the board I could have taken Josh Batch over Jones, I could have taken Mark Garside over Alex Graham, there were still players on the board when I took Churchfield as well.

"So for me, it was more important to get these guys in and make sure that I can evaluate them the best I can so that I have a much better understanding where they are for the future.

"With the Brit pack we already have, they are so high end, keeping those (draftee) guys was my most important thing.

Alex Graham drives the net. Pic: Podium Prints.

"It was great to add Matt Myers and Josh Waller but more importantly I kept the guys I want to coach into our system and I want to understand exactly what they would bring to the table for the longer term future of the club.

"This series is supposed to be fun, we want to win it but there is also a bigger picture that I really had before the draft and that I wanted to take advantage of."

The addition of Jason Hewitt, at 37 - he last played for Steelers five years ago - is further evidence of how Fox wanted to engender a Sheffield family spirit.

Fox said: "If you look at the Brit rosters as a whole I think our group is probably the best of the bunch for sure.

Jason Hewitt - Steelers through and through. Pic: Podium Prints.

"But strictly from a draft point of view on Monday, Manchester (Storm) did the best job bringing in good, good Brits

"The flip side of that I believe most of those guys won't be in Manchester in the future

"They went for the best available for this series. I thought they did a really good job, they were the team that brought the best Brit draft."