Ahead of Great Britain’s World Championship opener against Russia this afternoon, forward Jonathan Phillips says the team’s aim is to show the hockey world they belong in the top group.

It’s GB second successive campaign at the top level after avoiding relegation in the final game in Slovakia in 2019, coming from 3-0 down to beat France 4-3 in overtime.

Last year’s tournament – scheduled for Switzerland – was postponed because of the pandemic and Phillips wants GB to continue to improve and make steps forward.

“Our aim, as we have said before, is to keep getting that respect and we want to show the hockey world we belong in this group,” said Phillips.

“The big thing for us last time in Slovakia was staying in the group and I think we gained respect for that.

“Now we want to start showing that we keep growing and and show we are a good hockey nation who are improving all the time.”

Phillips goes into the tournament on 97 caps, having made his debut in 2003.

“Our age group when we were younger we got that exposure early on,” continued Phillips. “It just teaches you how to be a professional, how these tournaments are.

“It shows you the standard these top players are and it gives you a ceiling of what to aim towards.”

GB are based in the Group A of the Olympic Sports Centre in Riga and after today’s opener against Russia, GB go on to face Slovakia, Denmark, Belarus, Sweden, Czech Republic and Switzerland.

All matches will be shown free-to-air on FreeSports, which is available free on Sky Channel 422, Virgin Media Channel 553, on Channel 64 on Freeview and BT and via the FreeSports Player.

GB fixtures
Saturday 22nd May – Great Britain v Russia – 16:15 face-off (14:15 UK time)
Sunday 23rd May – Great Britain v Slovakia – 12:15 face-off (10:15 UK time)
Tuesday 25th May – Great Britain v Denmark – 16:15 face-off (14:15 UK time)
Wednesday 26th May – Belarus v Great Britain – 20:15 face-off (18:15 UK time)
Friday 28th May – Sweden v Great Britain – 16:15 face-off (14:15 UK time)
Saturday 29th May – Czech Republic v Great Britain – 12:15 face-off (10:15 UK time)
Tuesday 1st June – Switzerland v Great Britain – 12:15 face-off (10:15 UK time)