Gary Lawson is seeking a unique treble at the Summerset National Singles and Pairs, starting in Auckland on Wednesday (January 2).
The record-setting 13-time national champion is attempting to win three straight men’s pairs titles with three different playing partners.
Lawson partnered Neville Rodda in Taranaki in 2017 before teaming up with Blackjack Ali Forsyth at the start of this year in Dunedin.
With Forsyth skipping the upcoming nationals, Lawson has been forced to change partners again and next week will link up with former New Zealand team-mate Jamie Hill.
“Jamie Hill is a great player and he’s obviously trying to push his claims to get back into the New Zealand team as well so we’ve got a lot to play for,” Lawson said.
“It’d be great to see if I could win it with three different guys three years in a row.”
The two-time world champion has come of retirement to play at the nationals, with the aim of pushing his case for a long-awaited international recall.
“I love the nationals. You’ve got to perform at the nationals and win national titles if you want to play for New Zealand, I think.”
Gary Lawson is chasing his sixth national title in the pairs and 14th in all, but acknowledges “you never know when it’s going to be your last”.
“I love the challenge and to win another one or two would be fantastic.”
The Summerset National Singles and Pairs are being played at 16 clubs (with six additional wet weather alternatives) across Auckland and North Harbour, with the finals at Carlton Cornwall Bowls.
Lawson expects the Auckland combinations will be tough to beat in their own conditions.
Auckland Bowls 2018 bowlers of the year Mike Galloway and Martin Dixon are one of the notable local pairings, along with youngsters Aiden Takarua and Alex Reed.
They were central to the Point Chevalier Pirates’ success in the inaugural Bowls3Five televised league.
Takarua and Reed have been playing together for the best part of two and a half years and have “got a few results”, but winning a big TV tournament has been their breakthrough.
“It was massive,” Takarua said.
“It’s the biggest event I’ve played in and it was nice to get the result.”
Their impressive form has carried on, with Takarua and Reed helping the Pt Chev men win the Auckland interclub title before marching through to the semi-finals of the Auckland pairs.
But Aiden Takarua is playing in the nationals for only the second time, having entered the fours in Taranaki in 2017, while it is the maiden appearance for Alex Reed, and Takarua is keen to play down the home town advantage.
“A lot of people are thinking a home draw might have that little bit of an advantage but I think when post-section comes Carlton runs really good and it’ll be good for everyone and no one will get too much of an advantage unfortunately.”
Qualifying for the men’s pairs starts on January 3, with post-section starting on January 6 before the final on January 8.