Image: Peter Hodson 2012 National Men’s Singles Title Holder
The Stoke Thunder is placing faith in its depth for the inaugural Bowls3Five televised league, starting next week.
The Nelson club will be without reigning world men’s singles champion Shannon McIlroy for the first half of the six week competition, which will be broadcast live on SKY Sport on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
McIlroy heads to Sydney next week for the World Singles Champion of Champions and won’t return until the eve of week three.
“My wife and I just bought a house and our move-in date is on the Wednesday of the third week of Bowls3Five,” he said.
“[So] I’ll be on deck round four and onwards.”
But the experienced Blackjack has no concerns about how the Thunder will cope in his absence.
“Our club is one of the better all-round sides,” McIlroy said.
“The lads that will be filling in my spot for the first few rounds are more than capable.
“We’ve got a national singles winner, we’ve got a former New Zealand under-25 representative and Kirsten, our women’s player, has played for the Blackjacks as well.”
Peter Hodson, who won the national men’s singles title in 2012, and James Pugh are likely to team-up in McIlroy’s absence, with former women’s international Kirsten Edwards to complete the Stoke Thunder trio for the opening weeks. Experienced club players Barbara Thomason and Lloyd Bellis will fill-in when required.
“On paper it’ll be between us, the [Gore] Rams and Stokes Valley,” McIlroy said.
“[But] five ends are not a lot and anything can happen in five ends.
“Sometimes it takes a player just half an hour to get into a groove…and you’re not going to have that luxury.”
Edwards also believes the shortened Bowls3Five format will lend itself to upsets.
“It’s all very well having good players, but this format isn’t going to necessarily see the best team win,” she said.
“You’ll have to be on your game all the time.”
Kirsten Edwards has singled out team manager Brendan Hodgson and Stoke Bowling Club president Mary Orbell for the work they have done to get the Thunder in Bowls3Five.
“Brendan led the charge,” Edwards said.
“He’s been amazing organising everything.”
Hodgson has deflected the praise.
“She [Orbell] was a massive driving force behind the bid,” he said.
And the name, the Stoke Thunder?
“The president suggested the Stoke Shiners, but you’d have to go around with a black eye I’d imagine,” Brendan Hodgson said.
“They said that each team needed a walkout theme so we figured we’d find a song a few people liked and then take a team name from there.”
Thunder by American pop rock band Imagine Dragons won out.
“So we ended up with the Thunder…and it’s something everyone around the club seems to have bought into.”
What is Bowls3Five?
Bowls3Five is a new fast format of the game which aims to provide a competition where everyone interested can get involved. Depending on the competition you play in, you can face a set number of ends, a shot clock, double points, and a tiebreaker end. Bowls3Five aims to fit into busy lifestyles of those finding themselves short on time but still wish to compete in sport and those who are stepping up to accept the challenge of the shorter format.
Bowls3Five offers three levels of competition – a social format for twilight competitions, a nationwide interclub competition and the inaugural Bowls3Five televised six-team league. It will be broadcast live on SKY Sport on Tuesday and Wednesday nights for six weeks From October 23 to November 28, 2018 at the New Lynn Bowling Club in Auckland. Specifically for television, the games will be played in one direction with two sets of five ends. If each team has won a set or both sets are drawn there will be a tie-break end to decide the winner of the game. The televised league starts with a double round-robin draw, all teams playing each other twice over the first five weeks. The six teams will then be ranked heading into the finals which are played in week six.
For more information: visit http://www.bowls3five.co.nz or contact Bowls3Five media manager Brenton Vannisselroy on 021 039 0471