BRADY Kurtz believes a winter of rest and recuperation has helped him start 2019 with a bang.

Pirates’ Aussie star is now in his fourth straight season at Wimborne Road, riding at number five after wearing the number one skull and crossbones race jacket last season.

Having also stepped into Europe with Leszno and Vetlanda in 2018, Kurtz took some time off back in Cowra, New South Wales, over the winter.

And the 22-year-old, who impressed across both legs of Pirates’ Premiership Shield triumph against King's Lynn, felt the downtime in his homeland had aided his flying start to the new British campaign.

Kurtz, who will line up in Pirates’ first SGB Premiership clash of the season at Peterborough on Monday (7.30pm), said: “I had a massive year last year and I don’t think I was prepared enough for all the travelling I did.

“But this year I’m better prepared for all the leagues, a bit more organised and looking to have another big year.

“It’s always good to go home as we spend a lot of time in Europe and it’s always nice to see your family and friends. I didn’t do a lot of racing in Australia this winter as I wanted to take some time away from speedway.

"I think that’s benefited me as I feel ready to go now.”

Kurtz also welcomed the return of Jack Holder to Pirates colours, the pair having last appeared together at Wimborne Road in 2017.

And despite the pressure of riding at number one for Poole in 2018, Kurtz did not rule out a quest to snatch it from his fellow Aussie Holder.

He added: “It’s good to have Jack back. We’re both a little older now (since 2017) and I think it will be good for us.

“I’m out there to win every race, but I’m sure Jack won’t want to hand that jacket over too easily.

“I’m really happy with how the team looks this year and feel really confident going into the season.”

The Panthers, back in the Premiership after two years in the Championship, have made a poor start to the new campaign, falling 48-42 at home against Belle Vue in the Supporters’ Cup before suffering a 50-40 reverse in Manchester in the same competition.

And although they secured a 46-44 home win over Wolves on Thursday night in the cup, former Pirates star Hans Andersen endured a night to forget, failing to score from four rides.

Familiar face Rohan Tungate also lines up for the hosts at the East of England Showground on Monday, while the visiting Pirates are also at full strength.

Panthers: Rohan Tungate, Lasse Bjerre, Bradley Wilson-Dean, Charles Wright, Hans Andersen, Aaron Summers, Ben Barker.

Pirates: Jack Holder, Josh Grajczonek, Nicolai Klindt, Richie Worrall, Brady Kurtz, Nico Covatti, Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen.