Ipswich boss Hawkins looks for Cameron Heeps to push on and threaten the Witches 'big three' in 2018
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Witches team boss Ritchie Hawkins has said 2018 is a year in which talented Aussie Cameron Heeps needs to push on.
The 22-year-old from Perth was one of the big success stories of last season’s campaign at Foxhall.
He enjoyed a steady and improved season, but Hawkins wants him to go that much further now.
“Cameron needs to push on this year,” Hawkins said.
“I feel he made huge progress last year and he needs to push on and grab a heat leader position and work his way up to have the consistency to push Rory (Schlein), Nico (Covattii) and Danny (King), at the top of the team.
“We want all four of them fighting to be top dog really and there is no reason he shouldn’t be able to do that.”
Heeps joined Ipswich in 2012, becoming an asset of the club and was a fixture in the Foxhall side until 2016 where he spent a year away at Rye House.
This season will be his sixth with the Witches. He is doubling up with Wolverhampton in the Premiership.
Hawkins, meanwhile, has taken a good break away from the sport after a frantic 2017 that saw the Witches just come up short in both the Championship play-off final and KO Cup final.
The team was cruelly hit be injuries throughout.
“I am itching to get back into it now and seeing how the side goes,” Hawkins said.
“You do enjoy the break, especially as last season was so draining with all the injury problems and the disappointment at the end of the season.
“We needed a break from it. I know I am the manager but I have a very close relationship with all the riders on a personal level and it wasn’t nice to see everybody getting injured and it was hard work last year in lots of ways but also very fun.”
Looking ahead to the season, Hawkins knows the team will need to hit the ground running, especially as two riders – Danyon Hume and Nico Covatti – are coming back from injury.
“When you return from injury like Nico and Danyon are doing, the problem is more the time off the bike rather than being worried about being injured again as that is part of the sport,” Hawkins said.
“We want to progress in the Championship Shield, so we cannot afford slip-ups early on. We will be favourites to progress from the group. But the first meeting of the year (Lakeside at home), can be a potential banana skin.”