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International Daniel French has the chance this weekend to become the first Otago indoor bowler to win two Henselite champion of champions singles titles.
French (32), a Dunedin painter, is one of six bowlers from zone 6 centres competing in the national finals in Wellington.
This is the seventh time French has qualified for the national finals. He won the title in 2014.‘‘I would like to think I have a chance, but it is a very hard event to win,’’ French said.
This is understandable because French will be up against the best singles bowlers from the 34 centres.
French made his international debut at the Trans-Tasman International Indoor Bowls Test match in Sydney this year and gained a lot of confidence after being a key bowler in the winning New Zealand team.
‘‘I’ve been more consistent this year than I have been in the past. The experience at Sydney has helped my bowls,’’ French said.
He believed his toughest opponent in Wellington would be fellow international Ashley Diamond (Upper Hutt Valley), who won the title in 2015.The other finalists from the Southern zone 6 region are Brian Hotton (Southland), who won the New Zealand masters singles title at this year’s national open championships in Taupo; former international Eileen Grant (South Otago), who tops the honours board in her centre with 25 titles; Gordon Robb (North Otago); Kevin Hurley (Central Otago); and Derek Cooper (South Canterbury).
The Henselite singles event has been held annually since 1975 and only eight bowlers from zone 6 have won the title. Ray Sangster (North Otago) won in 1986, Trevor Gould (Otago) in 1992, Grant l’Ami (Otago) in 1999, Mathew Begg (Central Otago) in 2004, Gary Flewitt (Otago) in 2008, Mark Keen (Southland) in 2010, Gary Low (Southland) in 2011 and French in 2014.
NZ Henselite Singles Zone 6 finalists
Derek Cooper (South Canterbury), Gordon Robb (North Otago), Daniel French (Otago, Dunedin), Kevin Hurley (Central Otago), Eileen Grant (South Otago), Brian Hotton (Southland).