Sam The Man To Lead Charge

NEWS Monday 21st March 2022, 2:00pm

by Graham Muncie

If you look back at any success the Monarchs have gained over the years one thing tends to be a consistent, that being a strong number 1 to lead from the front and 2022 will be no different as Sam Masters returns to lead the charge.

Masters was top dog in the Championship average wise in 2021 and backed this up-finishing 3rd in the Premiership standings. That is now in the rear view mirror and Masters is looking forward to another big year ahead saying, "It was a good season for points and average last season so I am looking for that again.

"Obviously I always look to go better than I did the year before so my goal is to top the averages in the Premiership as well as the Championship but if I do the same as I did in the UK last year I can't do too much more than that really. I was happy with last year so I'm looking for more of the same, my bikes and equipment all went well so they are pretty similar for this year and I'll just go score as much as I can."

The New South Wales born racer certainly should be sharp for the season with numerous appearances lined up in various testimonials and individual meetings before the league campaigns start in earnest and Masters feels this is a big benefit, "You can do as many practice sessions as you want on your own but it is different going from the tapes against three other guys.

"I am not just doing the testimonials for practice though I am doing them as they are my mates. Todd is a mate; Lewi I've known for a long time and the BEN Fund you hope you never need it but one day I might, so you do the right thing. I enjoy doing these meetings and it allows me to get competitive laps in, make sure the bikes are ready and also help out my mates so it's all good."

There was a feeling of chances gone begging for the Monarchs in 2021 after a Play Off semi final defeat and KO Cup final defeat. As captain, Masters feels this year's squad has the capability of challenging once again, "We have a good team to do something, but we do need to step it up, every one of us. It is difficult when you have two guys that have never seen any of the tracks before but it's up to the rest of us to do our best to help them out.

"Picko now steps up to a senior heat leader position which he hasn't done before but he is ready for that. Kye just need to keep doing what he done last year and progress. If he does that, we will be strong up top.

"Then Paco is on form, he had a good winter so he'll start well. We have a good team, a good bunch of boys, so it will be fun.

"I don't know Jacob too well, I only met him for the first time back home this winter, I didn't have anything to do with him signing or anything. I think he will do ok, I haven't seen him ride much but I think he will do ok. It is a different ball game when you come to the UK for the first time from back home and some handle it better than others, but he is at a great club for it, and he will have loads of support.

"I've changed teams in Poland but apart from that it's a lot of the same as last year, I had a good year so there was no need to change much. I just try to keep things simple and have fun.

"You can only aim for the Play Offs then once you are in it starts again so that's the aim for all my teams. Get yourself into those Play Offs then see where you are in September and charge on, I am due to win some trophies - it's been too long - so that's the aim."

Now 30 years old, Masters is still in the prime of his career and while domestically he is no doubt on top of his game there still lies a desire to push on individually, "I'd like to still go forward in my career, I know I am not one of the younger guys now, but I know I can mix it with the top guys.

"It is pretty difficult though to get into the GP qualifying when they haven't been running the Australian championships, they just pick who they want in and unfortunately I am not one of the favourites to get picked so it is difficult.

"I don' think about it too much though, I can only control what I can control and what is meant to be will be. I am having fun racing motorbikes for a living. Sometimes the rules don't allow you to move forward but who knows if I can move up in the leagues in Poland again that would be cool, but I am still aiming to keep pushing on I just need the opportunity.

"Last year the way I was riding I felt I could have done well in the qualifying and pushed for the GP but that's just the way it is and as I said if it happens it happens."

One thing is for sure that if Sam is to kick on once again, he will do so with the support of his family in his corner. One of the major developments of his visit back to Australia over the winter was a proposal to long term girlfriend Tegan, Sam joking, "Tegan got her ring, and she ticks most of the boxes I guess, I had a bit of pressure from the family to get it done and if it wasn't for covid I would have done it earlier.

"I think she is happy about it, she certainly said yes so that's the main thing and it's great to have her and Leni with me to do it all with. I couldn't do what I do without Tegan."

Whatever Sam does he does well and another year like 2021 would go a long way to helping the Monarchs in their aims for some much-awaited silverware this season.