PIRATES legend Alun Rossiter has tipped his former club to launch a fierce defence of their Elite League crown when the new campaign gets under way.

The Swindon Robins boss, who won three league titles with Poole as a rider, is adamant that his old team will be challenging for silverware come October.

Pirates have 7.50 points with which to fill the one remaining spot in their 2014 line-up and Rossiter has been impressed with the business the Dorset club have done over the winter so far.

Rossiter, who was last week appointed as Neil Middleditch’s successor in the Great Britain managerial hot seat, said: “Poole will be up the top end again this year, without a shadow of a doubt.

“Matt (Ford, Pirates promoter) has been there, done that and got the T-shirt. He isn’t daft.

“In Darcy (Ward) he has a rider that is going to win lots of races and is a points machine, so Poole are in a very fortunate position there.

“Darcy has got some good riders to back him up. (Josh) Grajczonek was our Achilles heel in the play-off semi-final last year and Matt owns his contract now so he will have priority on him this year.

“(Vaclav) Milik showed what he can do in the Under-21 World Championship and (Maciej) Janowski is a world-class rider who is committed to the cause.”

Although his allegiance now lies elsewhere, Rossiter retains plenty of affection for Pirates.

He added: “I would rather see Swindon win now but I had great times down there.

“I still have a lot of affection for Poole because my family are from there and there are a lot of people I know and like.

“I’m certainly not jealous but I just think Poole run their business right and that is why they are successful. You only get out what you put in and Matt works hard to make it work.”