Mildenhall Fen Tigers captain Connor Coles is confident he can put his time spent riding in Australia over the winter to good use by leading the club to National League glory.
The 21-year-old is hoping he can become the third generation of his family, behind his granddad Bob Coles and his dad Michael Coles, to play a starring role in the side having taken over the captain’s armband from Dan Halsey as he returns for his third season with the team.
“I think we are capable of winning the league, we all just need to do what we know we are capable of doing,” said Coles.
“We’ve got strength throughout the team whereas some of the other teams don’t look to have that, in that they are top heavy sides which gives us an advantage.
“I’m really grateful for Kevin (Jolly) picking me to be captain, I just hope I can pay back his faith now.”
Having had his inaugural season with the club in 2014 cut short after sustaining a broken leg during the home fixture of their National Trophy final triumph over the Stoke Potters, Coles took time to get into his stride last year, much to his frustration.
With that difficult first season back from injury now behind him, the former Kent Kings rider feels he will be on the ball come the club’s clash against a National League select side at West Row on Sunday (3.30pm), thanks to his trip Down Under.
“I didn’t ride as much as I could have done in Australia, but I rode in four practice sessions and three meetings out there. I think riding in Australia over the winter will benefit me quite a bit though,” said Coles.
“Most years that I’ve been riding in the National League I come into the new season and find that riders have upped their game and I’m hoping that I can be one this year.
“Being on the bike out in Australia helped strengthen my forearm up while I don’t want to jinx it but my starts seemed to be a little bit better.
“I want to put the number one jacket on at some point this year and for that you need to be on about a nine-point average.
“It is quite a big ask as I’m only on a 5.61 average, but if I get back to how I was riding at the end of the year I broke my leg, then the potential is there to do that.”
Twenty four hours after taking to the track in front of their home fans the Fen Tigers will travel to Hoddesdon to take on the Rye House Raiders in their opening National League fixture (2pm), a meeting Coles believes his side can take victory from.
“I enjoy riding Rye House and I know a few of the other lads do too,” said Coles.
“The adverse camber they had there is apparently no more, so that makes it less of a home advantage now. If we can gate well, we can win the meeting.”