Edinburgh Monarchs have completed their speedway squad for next season by capturing promising Australian racer Josh Pickering, who will make his UK debut in the rebranded Championship tier.
And today Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess said he has got the side he wanted but stressed there is an element of gamble about the final line-up.
He told the Evening News: “We have put together the best side we can under the new 40-point team-building regulations. And that’s the rules we have to work within.
“Like all Edinburgh sides, there is an element of gamble about it but that has been the case with every team Edinburgh have put together in the past.
“If the gambles pay off, we will be absolutely fine.”
Asked if Pickering is one of the main gambles, Harkess replied: “Irrespective of what Josh does in Australia, it’s down to how he settles in over here with a totally different lifestyle to anything else he has been used to before. Some riders from Australia settle in very quickly, others struggle, and some don’t manage at all. How he does will depend on how he copes with the Armadale track and Josh will have to master that first and foremost. It’s what it’s all about.”
Pickering comes with strong recommendations from current captain Sam Masters and former Monarch Max Fricke.
The 20-year-old, who enters the side on a five-point average, will occupy a second-string role within the team and Harkess admits this could be a baptism for fire for him. He pointed out: “I think it will be highly unlikely that a five-point rider will drop to reserve so he will have to bite the bullet at first and it could be hard for him at the start.”
Pickering said: “I’m very happy to be joining Edinburgh and the opportunity they have given me should help me get to the next level of my career and I’m looking forward to it and hopefully I can do a job for them after they have shown faith in me.
“I have watched videos of the Armadale track so, when I get there, I won’t be too shocked at what I see.”
Monarchs 2017: Sam Masters, Erik Riss, Ricky Wells, Mark Riss, Max Clegg, Mitchell Davey, Josh Pickering.