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The New Zealand contingent to the Golden Shears World Championships in Ireland will be going all out to defend its reputation as the most successful nation in the history of the event.
The build-up to the world shearing and woolhandling championships, which start on May 22 in Gorey, has begun with New Zealand team members competing at various UK events in preparation.
A last-minute change to the team brings Brian Thomson, of West Melton, a two-time world championships individual blade shearing finalist, in to replace Mike McConnell on the blade shearing team.
McConnell withdrew from the competition for personal reasons, Shearing Sports New Zealand media officer Doug Laing said. New Zealand has won 34 titles in the history of the championships, which were first held at the Royal Bath and West Show in England in 1977.
The Lesotho blade shearing team - strong contenders for titles - have not been able to find the funding needed to attend this year's event.
Organisers say 27 countries have entered the championships, bringing more than 100 competitors to Gorey.
There are six titles to be decided: the individual and teams championships in each of the three shearing disciplines of machine shearing, blade shearing and woolhandling.
The rest of the team to represent New Zealand are: machine shearers Rowland Smith, of Hastings, and John Kirkpatrick, of Napier; blade shearer Tony Dobbs, of Fairlie; and woolhandlers Joel Henare, of Gisborne, and Veronica (Ronnie) Goss, of Kimbolton.
The world event emerged from the Golden Shears International Shearing Championships, founded in Masterton in 1961.
- by Ruth Grundy