Josh Pickering named new Monarchs No.1 for 2023

Josh Pickering has been named the Edinburgh Monarchs' new No.1 for the 2023 Championship campaign.

The sensational Australian, who turned 26 earlier this week, will take over the reins from compatriot Sam Masters, who has agreed a deal with the Oxford Cheetahs next season. Pickering is renowned for his nerves of steel style of racing since arriving in 2017 and has become a fans' favourite among those at Armadale. However, despite a strong affiliation to to the blue and gold, Pickering admitted it wasn't as straightforward a decision due to the club's uncertain future at the West Lothian venue.

"I can't deny it was a difficult time at the end of last season," he said. "I didn't want to make a hasty decision. I was talking the logistics over with Brooke (Pickering's wife). I was looking at one point at not doing the Championship at all, and I did also think about moving to a Wednesday team which would free up the weekends. However, after Sam decided to move, I didn't want the Monarchs to lose both of us. I didn't want Edinburgh to be in the position of maybe having to put out a weak team for next season. It might have been different if Sam had been staying with the Monarchs.

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"But let me be quite clear, I am very happy to be back because it is a great club with great supporters. I will give it my all next season as I always do and I am looking forward to it. But I want to be completely honest after that it is probably 99 per cent certain that this will be my last season at Edinburgh because of the way I want my career to go."

Josh Pickering will be Monarchs' new No.1 next season. Picture: Jack Cupido

Pickering will again compete in British speedway's Premiership next year, although who that is with remains to be seen. He will also race in Poland with Gniezno where he will team up with Masters. However, he harbours ambitions to make it to the pinnacle of the sport and secure a Grand Prix berth.

He added: "I'm only just getting going! I don't think I have made it yet to any great extent, though I will be pleased to be starting at No.1 for the Monarchs next season."