POOLE Pirates have recruited Craig Cook to guest in their Elite League opener against Eastbourne on Wednesday.

Regular number one and captain Darcy Ward sustained a broken thumb, concussion and soft tissue damage in his knee in the New Zealand Grand Prix on Saturday and is unavailable.

Pirates team manager Neil Middleditch had originally hoped that asset Chris Holder - who also competed in Auckland - would take Ward's place, but now Cook has accepted the guest booking.

The Brit is signed up with Poole's league rivals Belle Vue this season.

Poole promoter Matt Ford said: “We are waiting for more information as to the extent of Darcy's absence and while we are without his services we will be covering with guest riders, which is never an ideal situation.

“Our options have been limited this week as there are two other Elite League fixtures being held on Wednesday with Birmingham hosting Coventry and Lakeside visiting King's Lynn, but Craig has started the season well and has plenty of potential, so I am hoping he will be able to fill the boots of Darcy.

“Our task on Wednesday is tough enough as the Eastbourne side look strong and I really don't go along with the pundits who have put the Eagles as lower finishers in the league.

“They are a solid outfit and I can see them giving us a tough ride.

“They have already opened their league account with convincing wins and that will breed confidence.”

Poole Pirates: Cook (guest), Grajczonek, Janowski, Milik, Pawlicki, Newman, Smart. Team manager: Neil Middleditch.

Eastbourne Eagles: Pedersen, Lahti, Kylmakorpi, Michelsen, Woodward, Blackbird, Halsey. Team manager: Trevor Geer.