Sam will be master of own destiny in Monarchs stint

Sam Masters will be riding in Poland and for Wolverhampton as well as Monarchs next season. Pic: Ron MacNeill
Sam Masters will be riding in Poland and for Wolverhampton as well as Monarchs next season. Pic: Ron MacNeill
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Sam Masters’ decision to remain with Edinburgh Monarchs for a third spell in 2016 is a huge relief for the Capital speedway side’s supporters in the wake of rumours suggesting the popular Australian was set to follow Craig Cook and Justin Sedgmen out of the Armadale exit door.

However, it seems highly likely the ambitious Masters will seek to further his career by moving up into the Elite League permanently in 2017 after revealing he will double up with Wolverhampton Wolves in the top flight next season.

Masters said: “I’m happy to be riding for Wolverhampton, I should have been racing for them and Edinburgh in 2013, but I was unable to obtain a visa. So finally I’m doing that next year and I hope to progress more than I have done.

“But I’m happy with another year in the Premier League. I will also be riding in Poland plus a few meetings in Denmark, but they race on a Friday which makes life a bit more harder because that is Edinburgh’s race night, but I would like to do most of the meetings in Poland.

“I’d like to go full time in the Elite League. I might have done it this year, but I got held back with injuries.”

Masters doubled-up with Leicester Lions in 2015, but the switch to Wolverhampton is one that suits him and Monmore Green boss Chris van Straaten is delighted to have bagged Masters at the second time of asking.

“We are delighted to welcome Sam into our team,” said Van Straaten. “I believe he has got plenty of ability and never gives up and I’m certain he will prove popular with the Wolverhampton fans.”

Masters will also be based down south next season, having previously resided in the West Lothian area. He said: “I will be staying in Hinkley, which is between Coventry and Leicester, and I also need to find some good mechanics because I’m not going to be able to manage it.

“I’ll have Edinburgh on a Friday, possibly a meeting on the Saturday, travel to Poland on Sunday and then Wolves on the Monday. But finding the right mechanic is hard and I have been on it every day. I don’t just want one that is good at working. I get along great with Robbie, my current spanner man, and I want anyone else I use to be like that so we can all have a good time – that’s important to me.”

There will be huge focus on Masters as he tries to steer Monarchs to a third Premier League crown in a row and the departure of Cook and Sedgmen, who were probably the Premier League’s best opening partnership last season, presents Monarchs with a considerable challenge to hang on to their championship title.

Masters certainly has the determination to lead Monarchs in the right direction and his performance in the home leg of the play-off Grand Final against Glasgow Tigers left nobody in any doubt over his future commitment to Monarchs.

“That was my best meeting of the season,” Masters recalls. “I had been persevering with this one engine which I had been using at the start of the year but it suddenly stopped working and I kept getting told it was me, not the bike, so I somehow got that into my head.

“Then I’d go to Poland and do all right and wondered why can’t I do that in the UK. I had a bad meeting in the first leg of the Grand Final at Ashfield and realised something had to change big time for our leg at home. So I used one of my Polish engines and the difference was evident straight away, and of course we beat the Tigers which was the icing on the cake.”

Masters is always reluctant to set himself any personal goals, but admitted: “If I can get a high nine or ten-point average in 2016 I’d be stoked, I know I can do it and I’ll be happy if I achieve that figure. Last season I began the campaign pretty good before I got injured, next year I want the whole year to be good.”

He continued: “Despite the internet speculation, I was always going to be back at Edinburgh. I enjoy riding for them and I’m happy to spend another year at Armadale.”

For now Masters is concentrating on his bid to win the Australian Championship after finishing runner-up last January and will start as one of the favourites.

“The tracks over here are different to the ones in Britain. They are a bit easier to ride and the skill level is not so important,” the 24-year-old said.

“If I ride like I did against Glasgow in the second leg of the Grand Final and also perform the way I did in the Melbourne Grand Prix in October, I have a chance of victory. My aim is certainly to be back in the GP in 2016.”

Clearly Masters has a long-term plan regarding his career path. The Premier League is becoming too small a pond for him as he strives to make his mark on the international front.

Monarchs fans had better cherish his performances while they can and will be grateful he has chosen to spend one more season in the second tier.