LEICESTER have moved to sign former British Champion Craig Cook for a second spell with the club.

Cook, who had a brief spell with the Watling JCB Lions last year, has just completed a 28-day spell as injury cover for Lewis Kerr with ROWE Motor Oil Premiership rivals Oxford.

And having made an excellent start to the 2024 season at Championship level with Workington, he has now signed up for the Lions and will make his first appearance in the KO Cup trip to Ipswich on Thursday.

Cook comes in at reserve, taking the place of Drew Kemp who the club would like to thank for his efforts over the last year.

Manager Stewart Dickson said: “The opportunity arose 72 hours ago to sign Craig, who became available because Oxford were true to their word and are bringing back Lewis Kerr after the 28 days.

“That gave us an opportunity to, in my opinion, strengthen the team in that particular area, and whilst it’s certainly tough on Drew the bottom line is that we’ve not been doing what I had hoped so far this season.

“I have a responsibility to the owner and to the supporters to give them the best possible team I can, and unfortunately that meant it was bad news for Drew this morning.

“He’s obviously disappointed, which I expect, but he was very adult-like about it. He knows it’s nothing personal, it’s just the way things are, and we do wish him all the best.

“I’m sure he and other people will have the opinion that they might not see it as a good move, but my job is to do what I feel is best for the team, and sometimes you have to take a tough decision.”

Cook’s previous stint with the Lions in 2023 came at a time when the club were suffering a major upheaval, and just after he had agreed to join he was involved in a serious crash at Edinburgh.

It effectively ended his campaign as a competitive force, but he has returned to much more like his true self this year – and his first appearance for Oxford saw him rack up a spectacular 16-point haul at Sheffield.

Dickson said: “Craig has been in good form this season. He’s up to almost a nine-point average again in the Championship, and you don’t get that sort of average if you’re not racing well.

“I know speedway meetings aren’t won on paper, but being able to bring him in at reserve could be the catalyst for our season taking off.

“Monday night was good but it was only one meeting, and Craig could provide us with the scoring power that we’re looking for at that end of the team.

“I think it also sends out a message to the other riders that Leicester won’t be sitting back this season. We are definitely going for it.

“When I spoke to Craig, he was clear that he has unfinished business at Leicester. It never went according to plan for him last year, for reasons that are well documented including the crash at Edinburgh.

“But he is well up for it, I think he’ll do a job for us, and I’d like to think I’ve got the tools such that I’ll get the right response from him.

“I will certainly be getting him fired up, and if Craig Cook does the job that Craig Cook is capable of, this could be a very clever signing for Leicester.”

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Leicester Lions V Ipswich Witches
July 18, 2024 19.30

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