The national bowls championships are still the pinnacle of the sport in this country, according to two-time champion and New Zealand selector Terry Scott.
The latest edition begins in Taranaki tomorrow and, having played in the "Dominion" (as he still prefers to call the championships) since 1972, Scott's opinion carries plenty of weight. He has pretty much seen it all, having missed only five years since his first outing.
"It's the calibre of the players involved," Scott said yesterday while trying out the proposed finals green at Paritutu.
"You get a much wider spread of players than any other tournament."
Although the tournament doesn't attract the huge numbers of yesteryear, largely because of declining numbers of affiliated members, the quality of players remains the same.
Scott, 58, has played bowls for 42 years and is employed as greenkeeper-manager of the North East Valley club in Dunedin, which has been his home since 1975. His early days were spent at the Cromwell club and in his first Dominion, as a member of his father's rink, he finished third in the blue ribbon event. The side lost to the eventual winners skipped by Paritutu's Ken Tompkins.
In 1977, Scott was a member of Kerry Clark's side who took the fours title with a thrilling win over Paritutu's Ken Murtagh in the finale. Scott's other title came when he beat Canterbury's Andy Curtain in the 1990 singles decider. Since then the consistent Scott, who holds a record 33 Dunedin titles, has been runner- up twice in the singles and fours and once in the pairs.
Scott returns with his same four this year, including brother Jim, cousin Shaun and brother-in-law Stephen O'Driscoll.
"I've come here to perform myself, although meeting up with so many people is always a highlight."
Scott's sole previous visit to the province was the inter-island clash in 1984.
For the past four years he has been a national selector and was recently at the world championships in Adelaide, where New Zealand collected three silvers (women) and two bronzes (men) from eight attempts.
"We needed to get four medals to retain our funding and so to get five was a pleasing result. However, we were disappointed that there were no golds and by the lack of success in the fours."
Both the women's and men's fours failed to make the playoffs.
A full review of the championships, which will include Scott and fellow selectors Dave Edwards and Raelene Peters, is due to be held in Wellington on January 10. The selector's contract expires at the end of the season and Scott is, at this stage, keen to continue.
"We need to find some more consistent results away from New Zealand and Australia."
Looming large on the horizon is the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, where for the first time since 1962, players will be able to compete in two disciplines.
Sides have been reduced to five players, with singles and fours played in one half of the Games and the same bowlers involved in pairs and triples in the other half.
The more immediate concern is picking teams in the open, under- 25 and under-18 grades for the trans-Tasman event.
Form at the national championships over the next fortnight will be a key factor in those selections.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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