New name in Blackjacks team for Trans Tasman

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There’s a new name in the Blackjacks squad for the first Trans Tasman test series of the decade, while a couple of world champions have rejoined the fold.

Selina Smith (nee Goddard) has assembled with the New Zealand squad on the Gold Coast, just days after getting married in Auckland.

“We had an awesome day bringing our family and friends together,” Smith said.

“You plan that day so much that you just want it to happen and you want to enjoy it and that’s exactly what happened.”

The newlyweds got to spend a couple of days together before she travelled across the ditch.

“A little mini moon so one day in Tasman and then a couple of days in Marlborough Sounds,” she said.

“Started travelling back to Nelson airport at 3:30 in the morning so here I am.”

Not that Smith considered turning down another chance to represent the Blackjacks.

“After the second day of training I’m feeling refreshed and revived.

“Being here is a massive event as well, an obviously different type of event [but] super happy to be here and Alex (her husband) is super supportive as well.”

Fresh from winning the national women’s pairs title with fellow New Zealand representative Katelyn Inch, Smith has been partnered with the country’s most capped player Jo Edwards for the three Trans Tasman tests.

She will also play with Inch, Val Smith and the recalled Wendy Jensen in the women’s four.

2016 world champions Shannon McIlroy and Mike Kernaghan have also rejoined the Blackjacks, after missing the Trans Tasman test series last November.

McIlroy returns after the birth of his second son Luke on Boxing Day, having taken time off to support wife Amy and help with his “father duties”.

“It’s been a couple of months layoff really. I haven’t been on the greens a hell of a lot really over the last few months obviously with our newborn.

“But it’s good to be back. [I’ve been] getting a bit of itchy feet watching the nationals and the last Trans Tasman so it’s good to be back in the environment and have another crack at a good opposition.

“It’s given me a new motivation I suppose, not that I need too much, but these days I don’t just do it for myself anymore, I definitely do it for the kids.”

The first Trans Tasman test is at Club Helensvale tomorrow (Tuesday, February 4), with the second and third tests to follow at Musgrave Hill and Broadbeach the next two days. But the bowls may have to be moved indoors with showers forecast for the next three days.

Should wet weather make it unplayable the Blackjacks and Jackaroos have agreed to complete matches at Paradise Point Bowls Club, which has a covered green.

“That’s going to be the challenge for both sides,” McIlroy said.

“Generally we play in the rain back home regularly and I know over here they don’t so if it does rain we’ve got to use that to our advantage and treat it as our friend really.”