After being released by Poole Pirates at the end of last season, Kyle Newman said it was a no-brainer to get in touch with Plymouth Prow Park Gladiators boss Garry May and get himself fixed up for the 2024 campaign.
Newman, who turns 32 on Thursday, is no stranger to the Coliseum, of course, having ridden for the club for two years under their former guise as the Devils.
Newman captained the club back then and helped them win the Premier League Fours – the club’s only major trophy to date – but, after eight years away, he is coming back as part of the main Gladiators team for 2024.
“When I found out I wasn’t at Poole, it was disappointing as I thought I’d had a good year, but hey-ho. It is what it is,” Newman said. “My options were limited really, so I kept pestering Garry and luckily for me, something crept up.
“Saturday nights work for me, I was captain there before, so I know the place and I know the track’s going to be slightly different, but there will be familiar faces and I am looking forward to getting back with Plymouth.
“I haven’t had the greatest of times since I left, but I am recovering from a shoulder operation now and hopefully you will see a bit more of the old me. That’s where I want to be at.”
Newman’s departure from Poole is largely down to the lower points score in the Championship for 2024 with clubs having to build their teams within a 38-point limit. Newman’s Green Sheet Average was 5.86 in 2023 and after averaging 7.07 for the season, it has increased for this year which meant Poole struggled to find a place for him in their septet.
Hopefully, the Pirates’ loss will be the Gladiators’ gain with Newman joining Ben Barker, Alfie Bowtell, Dan and Joe Thompson and Aussie reserve Jacob Hook in the team for next season.
“I improved my average last year – not as much as I wanted to – but it puts the likes of me in that middle zone where it is awkward to fit us in,” Newman said. “With all due respect, I see myself as better than a reserve position, I actually feel I could take a heat leader role, but I wasn’t quite there with my average last year.
“You then get caught in that middle zone and get pushed to the side or the back when it comes to team building. I understand that, it’s frustrating for me as a rider but it is what it is. I just have to keep pushing on and next year, push that average back up to where it should be.
“I like the responsibility of heat leader, but I will go wherever he puts me. I think it is a lot more balanced side than last year, but my responsibility this year will be to step up, as it will for the likes of Alfie and then the heat leaders to push on from where they are as well.
“As long as all the other boys do their job and get some points on the board, then we will be there or thereabouts. Jacob has had a few years in England now and we need him to push on as well and showing what he is really capable of.”
May was delighted with the acquisition and said: “Kyle lives at Wimborne and I am in Poole, so he’s almost my neighbour! But when he got dropped by Poole, he rung me up and I told Mark (Phillips), but we were dealing with other things at the time and I couldn’t give him an answer straight away because he wasn’t in our plans.
“He scored points everywhere last year and he rides Plymouth well because he’s been there before. We have used him as a guest and he rode well then, but I am sure he will score points again. He is a gutsy little rider and gets stuck in and I am sure he will improve.”
The club are still seeking sponsors for the new season and welcome people and business to discuss a host of sponsorship opportunities that the club can offer.