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Ben Forrester is enjoying life as a shearer.
While he is sitting on the sidelines for now due to a rugby injury, the North Canterbury shearer has had a successful first season on the competition circuit, finishing the season as New Zealand's fourth ranked junior shearer.
''I started doing it to help me with my shearing and to keep going round the shows. I just went with it and I got hooked.''
Before his rugby injury, Mr Forrester had a successful run on the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Canterbury-Marlborough Development Circuit.
Shearing Sports New Zealand region 2 chairman Dave Brooker said the circuit was established ''to encourage participation and promote the development of young shearers''.
''We started out with three or four shows, but we've expanded it to where it is now and we've got the sponsors to pay for four finalists.''
He said the circuit is the only one in the country which sponsored two junior and two intermediate shearers and a team manager to attend the New Zealand Shearing Championships in Te Kuiti each year.
Shearers accumulated points across 10 events throughout the season, including the Ellesmere, Rangiora, Ashburton, Canterbury, Marlborough, Duvauchelle, Amuri, Cheviot and Methven A&P Shows, plus the Sefton Shears, which was formerly the Kowai Sports.
The circuit culminated at the Methven A&P Show, where the top three qualifying junior and intermediate shearers competed in the final, based on their best five results.
Ben Forrester and Kelly Poehls, who both work for Rowan Nesbit Shearing of Loburn, competed against English shearer Henry Mayo, who has been shearing in Canterbury this season. Mr Forrester placed first and Mr Mayo second to earn trips to Te Kuiti.
Mr Mayo went on to win the national junior title, and Mr Forrester came fourth.
Mr Forrester is from the Leithfield village, but spent much of his spare time on family farms in the Hawarden and Waikari area.
''When I left school, my father told me I had to get a job.''
He gained a job as a wool presser for a local contractor, before gaining employment with Rowan Nesbit Shearing.
Last year, he spent nine months shearing in Australia, but chose to stay home this winter with the goal of playing division 1 rugby for Hurunui as a prop or lock.
''I wanted to have a full season of rugby, but after 10 minutes on the field, I'm off rugby and shearing for eight weeks with a grade 2 injury on my AC joint.''
Mr Forrester said he planned to do some more travel and see where shearing takes him.
''I'm saving up some money and to do a bit more travel with shearing anywhere in the world.
''Every country has different sheep, so you're always learning.''
-By David Hill