World Champs back up in Gore

It'll be as if nothing's missed a beat for many top shearers and woolhandlers, judges and officials as the 52nd two-day Southern Shears kick-off in Gore tomorrow (Friday).

New Zealand's two World individual champions, shearer John Kirkpatrick, of Napier, and Dunedin-based Gisborne woolhandler Joel Henare, will be back in action, less than a week after claiming their big titles in the euphoria of Invercargill's ILT Stadium Southland packed with over 4000 people late last Saturday night.

Among others will be Kirkpatrick's World teams championship partner, Invercargiill shearer Nathan Stratford, and 2014 World champion Rowland Smith, who won the Southland All Nations Open final World championships support event in Invercargill and who, like Kirkpatrick, will return to Southland from a few days at home in Hawke's Bay to resume normal competition business.

The woolhandling will be held tomorrow(Friday), with Henare, who will also take-up commentary duties in the Gore showground's Hokonui Stadium, defending the Southern Shears Open woolhandling title he won for a fifth time last year, among the 91 Open wins to his credit.

The South Island Shearer of the Year and Southern Shears Open finals on Saturday are expected to be a near repeat of the Southland All Nations final in which it was a Smith-Kirkpatrick-Stratford 1, 2, 3.

Successful defences of the titles for Smith would take him to the brink of a century of Open-class shearing wins.

Kirkpatrick will be gunning for a 10th Southern Shears Open title, and an 8th South Island Shearer of the Year title, but Stratford, despite being clearly the top-ranked South Island-based shearer has not won either of the events, last winning an Individual title at Gore in a SISOY Senior final 20 years ago.

There will also be Senior, Intermediate, Junior and Novice shearing events, and Senior and Junior woolhandling.

Competition secretary Lani Arnott, a woolhandling judge for the four days of last week's World Championships, says more than usual numbers of late entries are expected, with several World Championships competitors from overseas still in New Zealand.

Shearing Sports New Zealand chairman Sir David Fagan said it was a "commendable effort" and a "huge achievement" for all of those competitors and officials backing-up after last week's event, many also having been involved also the previous weekend at the Otago Shears in Balclutha.

The Otago Shears started an annual pilgrimage of four consecutive weekends of shows, from Balclutha, to Gore, to Taumarunui, Apiti and Pahiatua next weekend, followed also by a Pre-Shears Woolhandling Championships, leading to the goal, the Golden Shears in Masterton on March 2-4.


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