CHRIS Holder reckons no one can stop Pirates captain Darcy Ward defying his ruptured knee ligaments, declaring: “It hasn’t slowed him down at all.”

The 22-year-old jewel in Poole’s crown remains favourite for the world title this year, despite being told he requires surgery on his damaged anterior cruciate ligament.

Not only has the Aussie ace kept pace in the Grand Prix standings but has continued to regularly rack up double figures in club speedway for Poole, Polish club Unibax Torun and Swedish counterparts Piraterna.

And Ringwood-based Holder – Ward’s team-mate in Poland and Sweden – was quick to eulogise over his compatriot’s antics in the face of adverse medical advice.

Lifting the lid on his friend’s fitness battle, Holder told the Daily Echo: “Picking up that injury was not ideal because Darcy knew this would be a big season and it hampered him a little bit at first.

“I have spent a lot of time with him over the years and seen him grow up a lot and this knee injury has really made him think.

“He was pretty down for a while when he found out how bad it was but he did the best thing by resting up for a few weeks.

“We had chats about whether he could do the whole season here (in the UK) as well as his other commitments.

“But Darcy has never been one to give up and the physio work has paid off for him now because he came back quite strong.

“He can’t afford to take any knocks but once he is upright, he’s flying and I think he seems much happier in himself now he knows he can do it.

“That’s his style, it’s just how he rides. If he knocks it again it will wind him in a little bit but he has to go for it.

“He’s conscious of bumping it but still rides as crazy as ever, that’s why he’s so good. It’s the only way he knows so hopefully he can stay injury-free.”

Third-placed Ward will attempt to make more headway in the GP series when he contests the fifth round in Malilla, Sweden tonight (6pm BST).

Ward is just one point behind reigning champion Tai Woffinden and American legend Greg Hancock at the summit, while seventh-placed Holder is six points off top spot.