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Injury Forces Shearing Champion Rowland Smith Out Of Golden Shears

Reigning Golden Shears open shearing champion Rowland Smith has withdrawn from this year’s event because of injury.

The near two-metres-tall 37-year-old Hawke’s Bay shearer and eight-times Golden Shears Open winner, and 2014 World Champion, announced the decision on Wednesday, just hours after he had received the latest news on an injury he has been trying to work through.

It was worse than expected and he realised immediately it was best not to risk further damage with farming, rural contracting and family interests at play, and the desire to bounce back next season bidding for a place in the New Zealand team in the 2026 World Championships in Masterton.

He said he had been working towards defending the title, so it was a disappointment to have to withdraw at almost the last minute, with the three-day shears starting on Thursday morning and the Open championship heats being held on Friday afternoon.

The announcement sent the TAB into a spin, being the only betting agency in the World taking wagers on shearing competition in the only country where shearing competition is recognised by a Government or a government agency as sport.

Smith, who had competed just three times this season, for a win at Dannevirke on February 2, and third and second placings at Gore and Pukekohe on February 17 and 18 respectively, had been the TAB favourite, starting at $1.70 when the book opened on Monday, with second favourite and Northland shearer Toa Henderson at $2.60, after a string of dominant recent wins.

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As punter interest swung towards Henderson he came into $2.25 and Smith drifted to $1.80, but with Smith scratching Henderson was installed a warm favourite at $1.45. The price on Southland gun and 2023 New Zealand Shears Open winner and World Championships team member Leon Samuels was chopped into $2.90.

Smith was runner-up first-time into the Golden Shears final in 2011 and third 12 months later, but hasn’t since been beaten in the six-man showdown. He didn’t compete in 2015, when it was won by New Zealand-based Scotland international Gavin Mutch, who is now the third favourite to win the final on Saturday night.

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