PIRATES captain Darcy Ward may need an operation on the broken thumb he sustained in the New Zealand Grand Prix this morning.

The Aussie picked up the injury after being wiped out by eventual shock champion Martin Smolinski in heat 14 at Western Springs.

He was temporarily unconscious and suffered concussion and soft tissue damage in his left knee.

Ward's thumb problem comes as a significant blow to Pirates, who begin their Elite League campaign at home to Eastbourne on Wednesday.

It is believed the 21-year-old will seek a second opinion in Poland before deciding whether to go under the knife.

Having suffered three falls at the Auckland track, it was a less than ideal start to the 2014 Grand Prix series for Ward, who also rides for Torun and Piraterna.