Sheffield Tigers: Boss backs young ace Drew Kemp to handle step up
Sheffield Tigers chief Damien Bates is backing youngster Drew Kemp to hold his own as he elevates into the main body of the team.
A string of early impressive performances will see the 16-year-old move away from the reserve positions as the Tigers head to Newcastle for their first league fixture tomorrow (6.30).
But Bates reckons that won’t faze the teenage ace.
“Drew is a very special rider for his age,” Bates said.
“He’s impressed us a lot in his first few meetings both on and off the track.
“He’s willing to listen to Simon (Stead - team manager) and those around him and his performances are proving that he takes it all on board.
“As we’ve said before, managing the expectation around Drew this year is going to be hard but we’re backing him to do well whatever position he is in in the team.
“Obviously No.2 is one of the harder positions in the team, especially when you’ve just come away from reserve.
“But we know Drew is someone who will give it 100 per cent and who will try his best and that’s all we can ask.”
It means that Aussie newcomer Zaine Kennedy drops down - and Bates insists that’s a positive for his side.
“Zaine has been performing in the main body so we see no reason why he can’t maintain his form down at reserve,” Bates said.
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“We know it’s going to take him time to adapt to all the new away tracks but that’s part and parcel of having a newcomer to British Speedway in your team no matter how talented they are.
“We’re already very encouraged by the early signs he’s shown and the more he learns the better he’ll get.
“Him and Drew should just compliment each other and both of them will learn from this change in riding order in different ways.”
Newcastle hasn’t been the happiest of hunting grounds for the Tigers, in fact they’ve won just once there since 2009.
Said Bates: “We know what our record is like but Speedway isn’t like any other sport.
“This is a fresh group of riders and it’s a brand new season.
“Things change every year and the boys will be going there in a positive frame of mind.”
NEWCASTLE: Steve Worrall, Simon Lambert, Lasse Bjerre, Matthew Wethers, Thomas Jorgensen, Max Clegg, Danny Phillips.
SHEFFIELD: Danny King, Drew Kemp, Kasper Andersen, Ty Prcotor, Kyle Howarth, Broc Nicol, Zaine Kennedy.