DARCY Ward will lead Poole Pirates' Elite League defence in 2014.
The Australian speedway star was key in helping Poole securing last season's title despite being rooted to the bottom of the table in May.
"I believe Darcy is on the brink of becoming world champion, so to have him leading Poole's title defence is a huge boost for the club" explained Poole promoter Matt Ford.
"I cannot compliment Darcy enough for the role he played in turning around the 2013 season for Poole. We were fortunate to have the incredible leadership of Chris Holder before his injury in July and the backing of Greg Hancock coming in after Chris' injury.
"It took less than a minute to sort out a contract for next season. It was abundantly clear that Darcy's priority was that he wanted to stay at Poole – and we very much wanted him to lead the team.
Ward joins Josh Grajczonek and Kyle Newman as Poole's confirmed starters for 2014 – while Chris Holder has ruled himself out.
Ford has also made clear the Pirates' intent to help Ward out in finding additional local sponsors for next season.
"I thought it might be a tough job to bring him back" added Ford. "Darcy is in the process of making some big changes to his own personal set-ups for next year.
"In less than a year's time he could be world champion. In my opinion, to have your name connected with one of the county's great success stories is a huge opportunity."