Eastbourne Eagles Swoop on Gold Coast

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Written by Eastbourne Bowling Club

The Eastbourne Bowling Club’s great run of success has been rewarded, with recognition coming from Australia after the club has received an invitation to participate in the nation’s most prestigious club side event.

Following on from Eastbourne’s back to back victories in Bowls New Zealand’s Men’s National Interclub Division 1 competition, they have been selected as one of 20 clubs in Australia to compete in the 2017 Helensvale $60,000 National Club 5 a side Challenge to be held on the Gold Coast from 4 to 7 September.

Eastbourne is the first club in the event’s 11 year history to be included from outside of Australia. The five best players irrespective of gender will represent each invited club in singles, pairs, triples and fours through three days of qualifying. The top four teams will then play off in the semi-finals and final on day 4 for the $20,000 first place cheque. Teams who aren’t successful in reaching the final four can still be rewarded however, with prizemoney up for grabs for the best performed players in the respective disciplines they appeared in.

Eastbourne will field a strong lineup in the event which boasts a field of the highest quality. The indefatigable double world champion Gary Lawson will spearhead the side – the only player who wasn’t a part of this season’s National Interclub triumph. Lawson comes aboard via the event’s marquee player allowance, whereby each club is permitted to include a player who is not a member of that participating club in order to further strengthen the quality of the field. However Lawson is usually a bona fide Eastbourne member, having been a part of the club’s previous two National Interclub victories in 2009 and as recently as 2016.

Jamie Hill, Justin Goodwin and Phil Skoglund Jnr are three of the remaining four members of the side and are all former New Zealand Commonwealth Games representatives with a vast amount of international experience and success.

Rounding up the lineup is Club President Mike Carroll, the heart and soul of the operation who wouldn’t look out of place in the Hurricanes front row. Together with ex-President Scott Roddick who will act as team manager at Club Helensvale the two club stalwarts and Lower Hutt locals have been instrumental in the club’s ambitious initiatives over recent years.

Carroll says the club is excited about participating in the Helensvale 5 a side challenge.

“The roster we have put together for this event is very competitive and the lads are excited. To even receive an invitation to play is an honour in itself – the club can feel proud of its achievements and inclusion in this event is recognition of those efforts.” says Carroll.

Each club is responsible for covering event entry fees, travel and accommodation costs.

Leading up to the event Eastbourne will face off against Queensland’s Premier League champions Broadbeach featuring Canadian master-blaster Ryan Bester in a practice match held at Broadbeach on Saturday 2 September and will feature in Musgrave Hill’s BPL Cup qualifier on Sunday 3 September.

The club on a mission has rebranded itself as the Eastbourne Eagles, with players now decked out in fresh new uniforms courtesy of BLK and featuring the Eagles moniker.

Whilst only a small club, the Eagles are capable of big things – including winning Team of the Year at the Hutt Valley Sports Awards, courtesy of their National Interclub victory. Hill, Goodwin, Skoglund, Carroll and Roddick along with Jim Madden and Mike Solomon were the victorious seven man side.

They defeated Nelson’s Stoke club featuring current World singles champion Shannon McIlroy in the N ational final at Howick.

Aside from its on-green success, Carroll is equally proud of the culture the Eagles have developed off the green. “Players want to come and play for us.” says Carroll. “Club unity is a massive thing for us – we all enjoy each other’s company away from bowls.”

Indeed Eastbourne has an impressive recent membership. International players including Andrew Curtain, Blake Signal, Stephen W ood, Chris Le Lievre, Matt Gallop and Adam Newman have all worn the Eagles shirt.

The club spirit and success the Eastbourne Eagles have is recognised nationwide throughout New Zealand and is now set to be taken across the ditch for Australia to experience.