Elmwood Park Bowling Club has been named as the seventh team to compete in this year’s expanded Bowls3Five televised league and the Canterbury representatives boast a stellar line-up.
The Elmwood Saints, as they will be known, will be led by recalled Blackjack Gary Lawson, who has decided to step out from the commentary box.
The 13-time national champion has assembled a strong Saints team, featuring two former New Zealand reps.
Glasgow Commonwealth Games bronze medallist and five-time national champion Mandy Boyd has joined her partner Lance Pascoe at Elmwood Park, having been a stalwart of the Burnside Bowling Club in recent years.
Fellow former Blackjack Jan Shirley and 2018 national pairs champion Bev Morel have also been named in the Saints team, along with Steve Ditfort, who has won 12 Canterbury titles.
Elmwood Park Bowling Club president Pam Phair expects the Saints will be a force to be reckoned with in their first season.
“I think so and we’re very much looking forward to it,” Phair said.
“It’s just incredible to think Mandy will play. She’s certainly a great asset for our club.”
The Elmwood Saints are the result of a 2017 amalgamation between two of Christchurch’s older clubs, Elwood Bowling Club and Saint Albans/Merivale Bowling Club.
Elwood had been searching for a club to amalgamate with after being reduced to one green following the Canterbury quakes.
“The September  earthquake was out at Oxford, but it damaged the number one green,” Phair said.
“The greenkeepers had just got it ready and we were playing on it when the next earthquake hit in February  and it completely destroyed it.
“The liquefaction came up through the ground and it ruined the green so we had to close it.”
Elmwood Park has made the best out of a bad situation, filling the green with sand and creating an “urban beach” which is used for a number of activities, including beach volleyball.
The club is planning to build an indoor green on the site, which would allow bowls to be played throughout the year.
The Elmwood Saints will join Bowls3Five national interclub champions Hinuera, the defending champion Point Chevalier Pirates, the Gore Rams, Stoke Thunder, Royal Oak Rockets and Stokes Valley Vipers in the second edition of the league, which will be broadcast live on SKY Sport three nights a week for eight weeks from late October.
The eighth and final team will be announced soon.