Speedway: Sheffield Tigers can cash in on strength in depth

Josh Grajczonek
Josh Grajczonek
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Number one Josh Grajczonek reckons it will be Sheffield’s tail end that makes the difference in this year’s Championship title race.

The Australian is one of five new faces for 2017 as Tigers look to go one better than last season’s play-off final appearance.

Grajczonek, 27, was one of the men responsible for preventing the title heading to Yorkshire with 12 points for Somerset Rebels at Owlerton before racking up 11-paid-12 in the return in October.

With the Rebels moving up to the Premiership, the ex-Belle Vue charger will lead Sheffield’s bid to claim a first championship in 15 years but believes strength in depth rather than the fortunes of the more recognised names will be decisive. “We have a really good-looking team” said Grajczonek. “The top five is strong, Jack Parkinson-Blackburn has a lot of potential at reserve and so has Rob Branford.

“Rob really came on last year, he rode here at the final with Somerset and did really well in both legs. He has kicked on as a rider. I saw Jack at Rye House once and he was awesome so the signs are good. Hopefully, we can make the play-offs at least then it is a fresh start for everyone from there. We just have to stay fit and keep happy.”

Grajczonek said the much-changed team had enjoyed a pre-season meet-up to ensure everybody was on the same page going into the campaign.

“We went out for a meal and went go-karting and stuff before getting together for the press day,” he added.

“We all knew each other before but hadn’t rode together so it was good. Josh (Bates) is always a good laugh when you have him around so it was a good thing.

“I think we have a really good group here and we are all looking forward to the season.”

Tigers begin their home league fixtures against Berwick on Thursday (7.30) before heading north to face Workington, another of Grajczonek’s old clubs, on Saturday (7pm).