Ipswich Witches Australian star Rory Schlein looks ahead to 2018
© Copyright Steve Waller
Ipswich Witches star Rory Schlein says there is no reason the Foxhall side can't take that extra step to glory in 2018.
The Suffolk side suffered two heartbreaking cup final defeats in 2017 – the play-off final to Sheffield and the knock-out cup loss to Peterborough.
It was hard to take for the club and the fans, especially because injuries hit the team hard throughout the season – and even struck in the cup final against Peterborough itself.
But Schlein, who brought so much to the side during the season after promoter Chris Louis swooped for his signature last winter, is already looking forward to the team challenging again in 2018.
“I think it’s pretty safe to say the reason Chris and Ritchie (Hawkins, who is team manager) have gone for virtually the same team is because they believe we can build on last year,” Schlein said.
“The team spirit was superb. One of the main reasons I enjoyed last season so much was because of that spirit, it really rubbed off on me.
“Riders got on so well, it helps your racing.
“The likes of me and Danny King used to race against Chris, while many of the team have ridden with or against Ritchie. There’s a lot of respect.”
The Witches announced their full 2018 line-up over the weekend, with the only change to the 2017 starting team being young German, Michael Haertel – a rider Schlein admits he knows little about.
“I don’t pretend to know him well, but I’ve had plenty of people tell me he is a talent,” Schlein said.
“I think while it is nice to bring back almost the whole team of last year, it’s good to freshen it up with one new face.”
So, can the Witches go that one step further in 2018 and at long last grab some silverware?
Schlein has his answer to that.
“I don’t see any reason why not,” he said.
“We were tipped to be one of the front runners last season and I pretty well guarantee we will be tipped to be one of the front runners this season.
“Luck plays a huge part. If we get the luck on our side next year, then who knows?
“The team showed how good it was last season.”
Meanwhile, promoter Louis added: “We’ve missed out on silverware in two finals, but we were there to give ourselves a chance and we will be there again next year.”