Darby faces major challenge
At just 16 Keanu Darby is set to become the youngest person to play bowls for the South Canterbury senior men's team.
Darby will be the first teenager to play for South Canterbury, with previous youngest, Sean O'Neill, in his early 20s when he debuted.
Darby has been picked to skip the pairs with Kia Toa veteran Richie Kerr at a national tournament in Auckland next month.
It has been a rapid rise for the Timaru Boys' High School pupil who only started playing bowls three years ago with the encouragement of his grandfather, Peter Darby.
"When I was 13 and mum was at work, I used to follow my granddad down [to the Temuka Bowling Club] on a Saturday and Sunday.
"I'd just sit and watch, I couldn't do much else. From there I got interested in it . . . and I guess I got the knack of it pretty quick."
Darby said he had earned some breakthrough wins this season, including singles victories over Barrie Andrews and Ron Bailey.
Kerr, who is also the South Canterbury selector, initially stepped aside to offer Darby the chance to lead the pairs with Geraldine's Steve Jones, until Jones' withdrawal on Monday.
"He deserves his spot," Kerr said.
"He's in top form and that's what we're picking the team on.
"He's definitely one for the future." Darby said he did not play a lot at skip, so he would need to train hard on adjusting to the role which will mean he may have to be more attacking more often.
He said he was nervous knowing he would be facing some of New Zealand's top bowlers, but he hoped to remain as relaxed as possible as he felt he played his best bowls that way.
Darby will team with Kerr once before the trip to Auckland at a tournament at the Kia Toa Bowling Club as a lead-up to the event.
- © Fairfax NZ News