Fine-wool shearing legend Dion Morrell is making a competitive comeback, accepting a spot on the New Zealand team.
The Alexandra-based 50-year-old took second place at the New Zealand merino championships in the Alexandra final last Saturday and came away as the top New Zealand shearer.
West Australian shearer Damien Boyle won the championship title for a fourth year in a row.
Another interesting win on Saturday was by diminutive East Coast shearer Te Atakura Crawford, who became the first woman to win the senior final in what was easily the best victory of her career.
Morrell, a member of the merino championships organising committee, gave up regular competition shearing 10 years ago after he last represented New Zealand, and entered his home event only several weeks ago when he was worried about the number of entries.
"I don't think two to three days shearing a year makes a shearer. I'm a contractor now, not a shearer. This is our local show and entries were looking a bit light, then things just took off. The entries were good."
His major preparation was shearing about 25 sheep at controlled pace doing the woolhandling competition heats on the Friday.
After graduating through the shearing heats, quarter-finals and semifinals he found himself in the top six for the final, and was in two minds about how to do it.
That was when he thought of mate and fellow world shearing record-holder Ricky Pivac, who died in a motorbike crash in Australia last month, he said.
Morrell thought to himself: "It's [Pivac's] birthday tomorrow. What would Ricky do if he was in this position?"
Even though he was first to finish the 12 sheep, more than a sheep ahead of the next-quickest, he was surprised to learn soon afterwards he had done enough to get into the major money.
Morrell joins Golden Shears Open champion Rowland Smith and PGG Wrightson national series winner John Kirkpatrick, both of Hawke's Bay, in the New Zealand team for tests at Warrnambool, Victoria, on October 26 and at the Golden Shears in Masterton on March 1.
There will also be woolhandling tests, with New Zealand represented by Keryn Herbert of Te Awamutu, and Tia Potae of Milton.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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