Sheffield Steelers’ Sam Jones prepares to fulfil childhood ambition with Great Britain at World Championships

SHEFFIELD STEELERS’ defenceman Sam Jones says he has fulfilled a childhood ambition after being selected for the Great Britain squad to contest next month’s World Championships.

PACK YOUR BAGS: Steelers' defenceman Sam Jones has earned a call-up to the GB squad for next month's World Championships in Riga. Picture courtesy of Dean Woolley.

The 23-year-old was one of seven players on Steelers’ current Elite Series roster to be picked by GB head coach Pete Russell for the trip to Latvia, which sees them get their campaign underway against Group A opponents Russia on May 22.

They will also face Slovakia, Denmark, Belarus, Sweden, Czech Republic and Switzerland in a tournament will prove equally as tough as when they returned to the top-flight two years ago and survived with a memorable overtime win against France in their final game.

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For Walsall-born Jones, it marks a first-ever international call-up at any level. When he was first signed by Steelers’ head coach Aaron Fox for the 2020-21 Elite League season that was eventually cancelled because of the pandemic, he stated one of his aims was to make the GB squad.

ON THE UP: Sam Jones came to the attention of Steelers' head coach Aaron Fox while playing for Fife Flyers in the 2019-20 EIHL season. Picture courtesy of Jillian McFarlane/Flyers Images.

“I’ve wanted to play for GB ever since I was a kid,” said Fox. “I found out a couple of days ago and I’ve been riding a high ever since, it feels really good.

“I’m happy that I get to go out there, especially with it being the top division. In many ways, it’s the best possible year for me to get on the team.”

Jones had hoped to have already represented the country of his birth - his family moved to Canada when he was eight before he returned to the UK in 2016 - but he was deemed ineligible for the Under-20s team a few years ago, something which made him even more determined to play at senior level.

Russell has one name to add to the 27 he announced on Thursday but, so far, Jones is one of eight defencemen selected, with new club team-mate Davey Phillips also on board, along with former Steelers’ blue liner Ben O’Connor.

SEE YOU THERE: Sheffield Steelers' team-mate Davey Phillips will also be in Riga with Sam Jones. Picture: Dean Woolley.

As a result, the former Fife Flyers man is aware he will have to battle to earn every second of ice time when facing off against the likes of Russia, Sweden and the Czech Republic.

“With that first game against Russia, it is literally a case of being thrown straight into the thick of it from the very first game,” added Jones, who played in the Spring Cup with Telford Tigers ahead of the Elite Series.

“There’s a lot of good D-men going, eight in all, so I’m just hoping to go and prove my worth in training camp and play as many games as possible.

“I’m just really happy to be there and whatever ice time I can get I will eat it all up. There’s a lot of competition for places but that is a good thing.

Sheffield Steeldogs' D-man Ben O'Connor is one of eight defencemen selected by GB head coach Pete Russell. Picture: Cerys Molloy.

“There are guys that are going there for the first time, like me, alongside the more experienced guys like Davey - you need that competition, you need to push each other.

“It will be about all of us trying to get the best out of each other.”

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