HE might be in at the deep end in his first top-flight meeting of the year but guest Craig Cook is adamant he can “do a job” in the absence of injured Pirates star Darcy Ward.
A heat 14 crash in the New Zealand Grand Prix saw Ward sustain a broken thumb, soft tissue damage in his left knee and concussion, ruling him out of Poole’s Elite League opener at home to Eastbourne tonight (7.30pm).
Belle Vue skipper Cook has been brought in as cover and the Brit - who has a 7.40 average - insists he is relaxed about taking over from the two-time world under-21 champion.
He told the Daily Echo: “It’s going to be a test ride at number one but I had a test ride at number five last year and that’s where I’m riding for Belle Vue this season.
“I’ve ridden at number one in the Premier League for three years so I know what kind of races I’m going to be in and it doesn’t faze me at all.
“Number five is probably harder given the gate picks in heat 13. If you’re number five you’re off the outside in the hardest race of the meeting, so I think I would probably prefer to ride at number one.
“There’s no reason why I can’t go out there and do a job, although maybe not the job Darcy would do.”
With Belle Vue suffering postponements against Birmingham and Swindon, tonight’s fixture will be Cook’s first foray into the Elite League in 2014.
He added: “I liked the Poole track more in previous years as it seems to be getting a bit rougher and bumpier, but I ride it pretty well.
“I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite or my least favourite, but it’s a track I look forward to riding.”
Eastbourne have shaken up their originally-announced riding order, with the entire top five switching to different roles.
Cameron Woodward moves to number one partnered by the in-form Mikkel Michelsen, with Pirates asset Bjarne Pedersen at three. Timo Lahti and Joonas Kylmakorpi slot in at four and five respectively.
Pirates: 1 Cook (guest), 2 Grajczonek, 3 Janowski, 4 Milik, 5 Pawlicki, 6 Newman, 7 Smart. Team manager: Neil Middleditch.
Eagles: 1 Woodward, 2 Michelsen, 3 Pedersen, 4 Lahti, 5 Kylmakorpi, 6 Blackbird, 7 Halsey. Team manager: Trevor Geer.