By Henry Chard

The Ipswich ‘Tru Plant’ Witches have signed talented Australian prospect Jordan Stewart for the 2021 Premiership season.

The club have been forced to make two changes to the team that was due to ride in 2020 with both Jake Allen and Nico Covatti sitting out the 2021 season in Britain due to the ongoing global pandemic. The management have moved quickly to sign talented youngsters Stewart and Anders Rowe to replace the duo and the two new recruits join Jason Crump, Nicolai Klindt, Danny King and Cameron Heeps in the 2021 side with the club’s ‘rising star’ to be announced soon.

Stewart had signed for Swindon in the 2020 season that never got started due to the pandemic but with the Robins deciding not to run in 2021 due to the uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 restrictions that left the Australian without a Premiership club. However, Ipswich promoter Chris Louis moved quickly to bring him to Foxhall for the upcoming campaign.

“Obviously, Swindon pulled the pin a couple of weeks ago and that was pretty unexpected,” said Stewart. “Rosco (Alun Rossiter) only let me know a couple of days before but it was a tough pill to take. It was my first year in the Premiership and I was really looking forward to going to Swindon and having a go there but I’m lucky enough that Ipswich jumped on board.

“Chris contacted me, he messaged me on WhatsApp and asked if I was interested to go there. I’ve been to Ipswich once or twice in the Championship. It’s a cool track and stadium and I’m very excited to be there.”

The 22-year-old is looking forward to getting to grips with the Foxhall track and believes there is no better man to learn from than his compatriot Jason Crump.

“It is a very tricky track, it’s fairly tight and grippy and hard to ride which in my eyes is a good home track advantage. I’m very interested in going there to ride and it can only make me a better rider, learning how to ride that track and with the likes of Crumpy as guidance, you can’t get a better guidance than a three-time world champion can you?”

With no league racing in Britain in 2020, the Mildura-born rider has been keeping busy working for his father’s business and has had plenty of track time down under in recent months.

“My father owns his own engineering business, it’s a family business so I’m lucky enough to work for him when I come home. I’m very lucky with that side of things, I’ve had a steady job and steady income all year. On the racing side of things there wasn’t much from April until about June because we were in lockdown too out here, so we were all pretty knackered too.

“The last couple of months, we have been very lucky and have done eight or nine meetings, there’s been plenty of practices and that type of thing. It’s probably the best place to be at the moment in Australia, plenty of practice, plenty of meetings and there is plenty more to come. I have kept myself very busy riding over the last month or two with riding and it has been really good.”

Stewart has high ambitions in the sport and says he will do whatever it takes to get to Britain to ride this season despite the ongoing coronavirus restrictions making international travel difficult.

“That’s the next thing, at the end of the day I want to be world champion and I want to be a top speedway rider so I will do whatever it takes to get over there. Who knows what is going to happen, they’ve already delayed the season until the start of May and with restrictions it is going to be hard. I will have to quarantine when I get there and quarantine when I get back and that alone is expensive.

“You’ve got to push all that aside and keep looking at your goal and focus on what is at the end of the tunnel. If you want to be a speedway rider you have got to do what you’ve got to do and get over there and ride. You can’t afford to have two years off in my opinion. Jake has pulled the pin on this year and he is one of my best mates but it is going to be hard for him in the upcoming years to try and compete with all the other boys if he’s had another year off and the UK season does go ahead this year, it will make it harder for him next year.”

The new signing has been spending plenty of time with new teammate Crump in his homeland and can’t wait to continue his progression in the sport this year.

“I’m very close with Jason and have been hanging out with him whilst he’s been in Mildura and we have been talking as he knows what is going on at Ipswich. I’ve been talking to him; he’s been talking to Chris and it’s been pretty cool to have Jason helping me out and pointing me in the right direction. I know Danny (King) fairly well and Heepsy (Cameron Heeps) and from what Jason is saying it is going to be some team.

“I’m not the type of rider that sets goals, every year, every race, every meeting, as long as I’m improving and walking away with a few positives, that’s the main plan. I want to get over there and get a good average and keep on progressing and scoring points. I’ll be throwing 120% at it and every ride I go out in I will be trying my best.”

2021 team: Danny King ©, Jason Crump, Nicolai Klindt, Cameron Heeps, Jordan Stewart, Anders Rowe