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Rain puts hold on shear team reunion

MEDIA RELEASE

On behalf of Shearing Sports New Zealand

October 20, 2009

Rain in cow country puts hold on shear team reunion

Wet weather in Taranaki seems almost certain to stop World champion shearer Paul Avery making his new season's debut in Hastings on Friday at what would otherwise have been the first gathering of New Zealand's four World shearing and woolhandling title-holders since their triumphs in Norway 12 months ago.

Avery said from his farm at Toko, near Stratford, that without any shearing because of the wet weather which has dogged his area he won't be making the trip to the Great Raihania Shears at the Hawke's Bay Show.

But World teams championship-winning partner John Kirkpatrick, of Napier, and woolhandling champions Sheer Alabaster, of Taihape, and Joanne Kumeroa, of Wanganui, will be there.

The four have not been together at any one event since starting their separate journeys home in the hours after winning their titles in Bjerkreim on October 5 last year, with Kumeroa having been based in Australia till returning to New Zealand this season with a goal of making the New Zealand team again for next July's world championships in Wales, her own tribute to longtime friend and champion woolhandler Gina Nathan who died earlier this year.

Avery said that without the practice and fitness he "wouldn't be able to compete," and the lack of shearing has him also doubting his ability to perform a week later when he shears in Warrnambool, Victoria, with a team chosen from the New Zealand championships in Te Kuiti last April.

"I wouldn't have shorn a thousand sheep since last April, and it's a long way to go to get your arse kicked," he said.

All three of his teammates will be hoping to extend early-season good form in Hastings, with both Kirkpatrick and Alabaster having won at the Poverty Bay Show last Saturday.

Alabaster, principal of a tiny country school near Taihape, was ecstatic over her success. Also unable to get significant practice in before the event, she had set only a goal to reach the top eight for the semi-final of the event which was the first in a North Island Circuit from which the top four woolhandlers will compete against the top four in the south in a World Championships selection trial in Masterton in March.

Kirkpatrick is expected to have veteran five-times champion David Fagan among his opposition on Friday. Having not won in New Zealand since scoring his Golden Shears open title in Masterton seven months ago, Fagan has been runner-up at his last two outings, in Waimate and Gisborne.

ENDS


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