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NZ Shearing Champs Entries Strong

NZ Shearing Champs Entries Strong

About 200 shearers and woolhandlers have entered the 20th anniversary New Zealand Shearing Championships, which begin in Te Kuiti next week.

Championships President John Grainger says entries are arriving daily for the championships, one of the world's largest shearing competitions.

"We are very happy with the entries and the standard of the entries. There is strong competition in the big events and a lot at stake for the country's top shearers."

Mr Grainger says a New Zealand team will be announced following the completion of the Championships, being held from April 1 to 3, to compete in tests against Wales and Canada.

He says thousands of people are expected to converge on the small King Country town, crowned the 'Shearing Capital of the World' with its large statue of a shearer shearing a sheep, during the Championships.

"It is the region's single largest event and the team of voluntary organisers has worked hard to make it bigger and better each year. We want this year's event, our 20th anniversary, to be special."

He says Te Kuiti shearer David Fagan - the current World Champion, defending champion and winner of the 2004 Golden Shears - is the favourite to win the open shearing title.

"David will obviously have the local crowd support and he is the sentimental favourite, given his dominance in this sport and the service he has given to shearing over his more than 20 years competing.

"David is vulnerable though and last weekend he was beaten by Stratford's Paul Avery at a show at Piopio, south of Te Kuiti. There are a number of other shearers capable of beating him who will be here."

The Championships begin on April 1 with woolhandling competitions and the exciting knockout speed shear event. Fagan is the current world record holder of the speed shear, shearing one sheep in just 17.94 seconds earlier this year.

On April 2 the novice and intermediate shearing events are held, a contractors relay and North Island vs South Island shearing and woolhandling challenges, as well as the North Island Shearer of the Year competition.

The final day of the championships sees the open shearing events, open woolhandling final, a New Zealand vs Australia challenge and a 'Celebrity Shear-off'.

The 'Celebrity Shear-off' is anticipated to be a highlight of the Championships, and is being held between New Zealand rugby greats Colin Meads and Brian Lochore and Australian rugby star turned television personality Peter FitzSimons.

During the Championships, the whole town of Te Kuiti gets into the spirit of the event with market days, a 'Muster' and sideshow entertainment.

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