NEIL Middleditch admits he is wary of fired-up Aussie opposition as Pirates prepare to take on Elite League play-off rivals Lakeside tonight (7.30pm).

Missing the sidelined Mikkel Bech Jensen due to a wrist injury, the Hammers have brought in King’s Lynn’s Rory Schlein to guest at Wimborne Road.

The Darwin-born charger will line up alongside former Pirates favourite Davey Watt in the visitors’ one-to-seven and with Darcy Ward spearheading the hosts’ challenge backed up by Josh Grajczonek, Middleditch has predicted that rivalry between the two pairs of Aussies will be at its most intense.

He told the Daily Echo: “Watty and Schleiny are both in the Lakeside line-up and there’s a great rivalry between the Aussie riders to beat each other.

“Rory likes it round Poole and he likes to race against Darcy so I know he’ll be giving 100 per cent for Lakeside, as you would expect.

“I think it’s just an Aussie thing that they have a particularly strong rivalry amongst each other over who is going to beat who.”

Lakeside are just six points behind second-placed Poole having completed a meeting less, with Pirates tomorrow due to face another tough test when they travel to table-toppers King’s Lynn.

Middleditch will be without the services of Shamek Pawlicki at the Norfolk Arena due to Polish championship commitments, so Coventry’s Chris Harris will provide cover.

“These two meetings will provide a huge indication as to who will be in the top four at the end of the season,” added Middleditch.

“King’s Lynn have been good all year but we’ve hit a good patch and I feel that if we can come away with a point up there, it will be a job well done.

“It will be tough as we’ve got no Shamek, but Bomber (Harris) has proved himself
up there so we’re looking for some good stuff from him.”

Pirates: (from) Darcy Ward, Josh Grajczonek, Vaclav Milik, Shamek Pawlicki, Maciej Janowski, Benji Compton, Kyle Newman. Team manager: Neil Middleditch.

Hammers: (from) Lewis Bridger, Richard Lawson, Kim Nilsson, Rory Schlein (guest), Davey Watt, Adam Ellis, Ben Morley. Team manager: Neil Vatcher.