Sheffield Steelers’ veteran Jonathan Phillips happy to usher through Great Britain’s next generation

AT 38, Jonathan Phillips is comfortably the oldest member of the Great Britain squad currently preparing for this month’s World Championships in Latvia.

EVERGREEN: Sheffield Steelers and GB captain Jonathan Phillips. Picture: Dean Woolley.

But, as all of Pete Russell’s roster will no doubt be quick to tell you, age matters little when it comes to a player who has captained his country at the last 11 international tournaments.

If you don’t believe them, just cast your mind back a couple of years to the closing moments of GB’s pivotal final group clash against France.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Having already produced a stunning comeback from 3-0 down to take the game into overtime – Russell’s players knowing a win would see them retain their top-tier status – it was Sheffield Steelers’ winger Phillips who showed he still had the necessary foot speed to sprint the length of the ice and set up a memorable winner for Ben Davies.

Last year saw Phillips and his team-mates denied the chance to take on the world’s best for a second time when the coronavirus pandemic saw the tournament scheduled to take place in Switzerland cancelled.

This year, in the capital city of Riga, the fear of relegation has been removed meaning GB already know they will already be rubbing shoulders with the world’s elite in 2022 for a third time.

Phillips, who made his senior GB debut back in 2003, is aware he is coming towards the tail-end of his international career but is pleased to see that the next generation of players is starting to make its way through on to the senior international stage.

“They need that experience, “ said Phillips when interviewed at the GB training camp in Coventry. “They need to be coming on these trips.

PREPARATION: GB head coach, Pete Russell. Picture: Dean Woolley.

“Taking these guys now is important as they are going to be our future. We need to be giving them that exposure.

“Myself and David Clarke (former GB forward) got a chance to go to the Czech Republic when we were 16-17, straight from the Under-20s for a pre-season tournament.

“It just gave us a little taste of what it was going to take and how to be a professional.”

GB get their Group A campaign underway on Saturday, June 22 against Russis, with further tough assignments to follow against Slovakia, Denmark, Belarus, Sweden, Czech Republic and Switzerland

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you’ll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click HERE to subscribe.