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New Zealand To Take On Australia In Home Test Match

The 2024 Trans-Tasman Test Match between New Zealand and Australia will be back on home turf next year, and we are excited for kiwi chants to fill the Pukekohe Cossie Club. Our Mat Blacks team was announced on Saturday at the AGM, and here we take a deeper look into the players selected.

Simon Thomas has been assigned the captaincy role, of which he describes as “an honour and a privilege.” It is a role he is no stranger to, having captained in Balcultha, 2011. Simon vividly remembers the 33-33 draw which ultimately resulted in an Australian victory, but he looks forward to turning that around. “I have learned from that experience and look forward to leading this young and talented group of people, and creating a really cohesive unit.”

He has been selected as skip of the Men’s Fours and Triples with Michael Lawson playing as his third and second respectively. Their combination has proven successful, having won four Australasian medals from four events. Leading for them in both will be 18 year old Nathan Trowell on debut. He excelled through his junior years and quickly became ‘the player to watch’, but his exceptional performance at the National Championships showed that not only is Nathan a star of the future, he is a star of right now. With an Interisland medal, National Player of the Tournament and now New Zealand selection, 2023 will be a year to remember for the University student.

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Shaun Blackbourn made his first Mat Blacks appearance in Ballarat and has continued his powerhouse winning streak at national level. He picked up back to back Welch Trophy wins, a NZ Henselite Singles title, and an Interisland medal. Shaun remains skip of the Mixed 6 Bowl Pairs and jumps to skip of the Mixed Fours, with all of his team mates on debut. Marcus Trlin is one of those debutants who, since being named reserve in 2022, went on to win the National Singles and two Interisland singles medals. He will play three for Shaun in the Mixed Fours and combine with Paul Smith in the Men’s 8 Bowl Pairs. Smith will also slot into the Men’s Singles for the first time, backed by a stellar record which includes the 2019 and 2021 Henselite Singles.

Daniel French retains his spot, now with a NZ Mixed Pairs title to his name. His selection sees him at two in the Men’s Fours and skip of the Mixed 8 Bowl Pairs; while Graham Low, now available for selection, rounds out the men’s team as their reserve. Graham’s consistency has been top tier over the years, and most recently he has collected a NZ Mixed Fours title, three South Island titles, and a National Triples title.

Plenty of changes have been made to the women’s side with three of last year’s incumbents unavailable, one not selected and one moved to reserve. It sees five women awarded a debut opportunity, and while the team might appear light on international experience, it certainly isn’t light on talent.

Shelley Jacombs has shown extraordinary form at skip, namely when she won the 2018 National Pairs and 2022 National Fours; one of only two women to achieve this. She has a dominant record in the Interisland test matches where she has medaled three times as a women’s triples and fours skip. Both Shelley and Kylie Gould have been reserve for New Zealand previously, and will look forward to showing everyone what they’re capable of on the big mats. They will combine as a skip/three and skip/two combination in the Women’s Fours and Triples.

Annelies Baker, also on debut, was awarded the Truth Cup in 2022 for best performing woman in the National Singles. She has two Interisland medals to her name, a prestigious Easter Singles title, and is a member of the current Welch Trophy winning team. Annelies will combine with fellow Waikato team mate, Shaun, in the Mixed 6 Bowl Pairs and will lead the Women’s Fours.

Alanna Moffitt and Jess Moffat put their hand up for New Zealand selection with strong performances locally and at the Interisland test matches. They have featured in NZ Champion of Champion events and will no doubt embrace their next step up to the International scene. Together they form the front end of the Mixed Fours before Alanna joins Daniel in the Mixed 8 Bowl Pairs, and Jess moves to lead of the Women’s Triple.

Sheree Holmes and Denise Clarkson are the only two players to retain their spots in the playing side and will make a great combination in the Women’s 8 Bowl Pairs. They each bring a positive attitude and a wealth of experience to the team, which will be welcomed by the seven players on debut. Denise slots into the Women’s Four as the two while Sheree claims the singles berth, and adding value from the bench will be 2022 Australasian Women’s Triples medalist, Rochelle Cameron.

If you’re thinking about supporting our team in black, put May 9th - 11th in your calendars and make your way to Pukekohe Cosmopolitan Club, 78 Nelson Street.

Congratulations to all selected, particularly those who will be experiencing the fern for the first time.

© Scoop Media

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