Bowls Australia has today named the 10-strong Jackaroos team to contest next month’s 18-nation Asia Pacific Championships event in New Zealand.
The sport’s national selection panel have elected to leave nothing to chance at the quadrennial tournament, which is the Southern Hemisphere’s qualifier event for next year’s coveted World Bowls Championships, naming a star-studded contingent while also affording Cabramatta’s Ray Pearse the opportunity to make his international debut.
Pearse, 31, has been a mainstay in the perennial powerhouse NSW Blues state team for a number of years, but only broke into the top tier Australian squad in July following an arduous selection camp on the Gold Coast.
Pearse will cut his teeth in the Jackaroos team leading for Club Helensvale’s Nathan Rice in the pairs and slotting into second spot of the fours discipline.
While Pearse will be handed his first international cap as Australia’s 141st male representative, on the opposite end of the spectrum, the most prolific international combatant in the nation’s history, Karen Murphy, has not only been granted the chance to add to her impressive record, but will do so in the blue-ribbon women’s singles.
Murphy, who will notch up her 500th international appearance at the Hong Kong Classic from November 7 to 15, will lead the charge for the women’s outfit in the singles, where she has a proven track record, as the reigning World Bowls Championships singles gold medallist from 2012, and will also guide St Johns Park’s 25 year-old international veteran Kelsey Cottrell in the pairs; who also lines up as second in the fours team.
Two Glasgow Commonwealth Games competitors, Sunbury’s Carla Odgers and Raymond Terrace’s Natasha Scott, will return to international duties after missing out on the Trans Tasman test series earlier this year.
While neither secured a podium finish in Scotland last year, both have been in scintillating form on the national stage recently having claimed the 2015 Australian Open women’s fours title together - which was just one of many victories for Scott, who took the title of Australia’s number one female bowler at the conclusion of the ranking season following that event.
Odgers will lead the triples and fours, while Scott will provide the fire-power to both disciplines as the skip.
Rounding out the women’s team for the 13-day, 18-nation event is 2014 Australian Open singles and fours champion Anne Johns, also from St Johns Park.
In the men’s line-up, three-time Bowls Australia International Bowler of the Year Aron Sherriff has again been tasked with spearheading the blue-ribbon singles discipline, after winning bronze at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, and will also skip the triples contingent.
Making up the five-strong men’s team are two reigning world champions in Grange’s Wayne Ruediger and Club Helensvale’s Mark Casey, with Ruediger leading the triples and fours, while Casey slots in as second in the triples and will take the reins as skip of the fours.
Australia completed the 2011 version of the tournament with eight medals from as many disciplines as the host nation in the last staging in Adelaide; winning two gold, five silver and a bronze medal, to reaffirm its position as one of the world’s genuine bowls superpowers.
It followed up that Asia Pacific Championships success with a historic haul from the sport’s most prestigious event, the World Bowls Championships a year later, with five gold and two silver from eight disciplines to secure the men’s, women’s and overall trophies, and in the process ensured automatic qualification to the 2016 event.
The 2015 Asia Pacific Championships will be held in Christchurch, New Zealand from November 24 to December 6, staged at Burnside Bowling Club with support from Bowls Papanui, featuring 168 competitors from 18 countries.
Bowls Australia would like to acknowledge the assistance and funding provided by the Australian Commonwealth Games Association to Bowls Australia for athletes in the “Gold Coast GOLD” 2018 program.
The Gold Coast GOLD program was devised by the ACGA to maximise podium performances at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and assist athletes who are expected to be nominated for selection to the 2018 Australian Team.
– Karen Murphy (40, Cabramatta, NSW)
– Kelsey Cottrell (25, St Johns Park, NSW) & Karen Murphy
– Carla Odgers (25, Sunbury, VIC), Anne Johns (35, St Johns Park, NSW) & Natasha Scott (24, Raymond Terrace, NSW)
– Carla Odgers, Kelsey Cottrell, Anne Johns & Natasha Scott
– Aron Sherriff (29, Ettalong Memorial, NSW)
– Ray Pearse (31, Cabramatta, NSW) & Nathan Rice (36, Club Helensvale, QLD)
– Wayne Ruediger (39, Grange, SA), Mark Casey (33, Club Helensvale, QLD) & Aron Sherriff
– Wayne Ruediger, Ray Pearse, Nathan Rice & Mark Casey
Caption: Aron Sherriff, Ray Pearse and Karen Murphy headline the Asia Pacific Championships team announced today.