The Hinuera Heat is placing faith in the small Waikato club’s members for its debut season in the Bowls3Five televised league, which starts next week (Oct 22) on SKY Sport.
The Heat has replaced the relegated Woodend Jets for the expanded competition’s second edition, after winning the national interclub title in April.
Unlike fellow newcomers Elmwood Saints, Hinuera has not brought in any high profile recruits.
“Our total squad are all longstanding Hinuera club members,” club president Debbie White said.
“We’ve not set about bringing in any firepower. We’ve got there being a club, being the good, strong, proud club that we are and we’ll continue on that way.
“A team of champions is great, but the climate and the culture that a champion team brings is what we’re about as country people.”
White headlines the Heat squad, having recently being named the country’s female development player of the year at the Bowls New Zealand awards, after winning the women’s national singles title in January.
But she has made it clear “we’re a team, we’re not just any one person” and all eight squad members will feature over the eight weeks of Bowls3Five at the New Lynn Bowling Club in Auckland.
White will be unavailable for a quarter of the competition as she will represent New Zealand at the World Singles Champion of Champions in Adelaide at the end of the month (Oct 28-Nov 3) before heading to the Gold Coast to play for the New Zealand development team in the Trans-Tasman next month (Nov 25-27).
Hinuera will also be without Beverly Corbett for the sixth week of Bowls3Five as she has been selected in the New Zealand over-60 side for the Trans-Tasman.
“Luckily we’ve got that third strong lady in Gaylene [Harvey],” Debbie White said.
“Of course she played the famous clincher bowl on the final end of the interclub final.”
Experienced bowlers Bruce Milne, Gerrard Slattery, Kevin Smith, Paul Casey Jnr and Stuart Settle are the Heat’s male contingent, with Slattery also taking on the mantle of selector.
Settle, like everyone at Hinuera, has embraced the shortened format.
“I think it’s given the old boy a bit of a new lease on life. He’s playing extremely well and he’s got a real enthusiasm for what we’re up to,” White said.
Rival clubs are also “really, really supportive” of the first Waikato team in the televised competition, with Putaruru and Hillcrest Bowling Clubs recently playing a Bowls3Five tri-series against Hinuera.
“There are some significantly good players at Putaruru and Hillcrest so that’s been a great build-up for us. We’ve had three solid days of Bowls3Five playing against those clubs.”
White is now looking forward to showing what the Heat’s capable of on the biggest stage.
“The big victory for us has been getting there and what we’ve done to get there,” she said.
“Of course now that we’re there we’re obviously all super competitive and…nobody wants to be that team that finds themselves at the bottom of the ranking and relegated out for next year.
“The primary focus for us is not to be relegated out for next year, but the mandatory focus for us is to enjoy the experience, learn from it and have a good time along the way, because Hinuera doesn’t really bother with anything too much unless we can have a good time.”
The Hinuera Heat will make their bow on the third night of Bowls3Five (Oct 24) with a double-header against the Stoke Thunder and the Royal Oak Rockets.