Some of the biggest names in bowls in New Zealand has been confirmed in the North (Te Ika-M-āui) and South (Te Waipounamu) Island teams for the new inter-island challenge in September.
The North v South Challenge will be contested at the Hopes Dunedin Indoor Stadium, 3-5 September in a Ryder Cup type format with 18 players announced including some of the legends of the game.
Both teams have a mix of experience and youth and are dominated by national and overseas medal winners. Jo Edwards and Val Smith are included in the South team up against rivals such as Selina Smith (nee Goddard) from the North who is 26-years-old and has already won a Commonwealth Games medal.
Seamus Curtin from Wellington is just 21-years-old but has the experienced Michael Galloway from Auckland in his team as well as Chris Le Lievre who is bowling out of Queensland at the present.
One of the female team members for the North is Debbie White from Hamilton who can’t wait for the tournament to start.
“I am absolutely super excited. It’s such an exciting event to be named in a team for.. I think the whole team thing is going to be epic. Dunedin is a happy hunting ground for me, Bev (Corbett) and I actually won a pairs title there. It’s going to be interesting over the winter, we’re in our off season now.” But will the North take out the title? “Dam straight. Of course we are, absolutely, go the North,” said White.
The South men contain big names such as Ali Forsyth, Gary Lawson, Shannon McIlroy and Mike Kernaghan who have won almost too many medals at national and international level to mention. There are five bowlers in total from Nelson in the South team while Gore is represented by the flamboyant Sheldon Bagrie-Howley who has made his mark in the Bowls3five competition over the past couple of years.
South para bowler, Bruce Wakefield from Christchurch is adamant his team will win and loves the new format.
“It’s absolutely brilliant to be named in the South Island team. There’s nothing like north v south rivalry. I’m a big fan of golf and the Ryder Cup format has a sudden death-ness of it every game is crucial, a brilliant concept. I’ve played there before a few years ago, but it’s changed a bit since then. As long as it’s consistent and you can play your shots on it. It doesn’t really matter what the surface is, you can adapt to it.”
Teams have eight male and eight female competitors as well as two para bowlers (male and female) for each team.
Day one of the event will feature two men’s and two women’s fours. Day two is nine mixed pairs (including mixed para pairs) and the final day is a huge 18 singles (including para bowlers v para bowlers).
In the past there have been North v South events but not in this new format and not always on a regular basis.