Star-studded 10,000 field led by Wilson, Bester

Ryan Bester (left) and Aaron Wilson in action at the North East Valley Bowling Club last year....
Ryan Bester (left) and Aaron Wilson in action at the North East Valley Bowling Club last year. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
The cream of world bowls will battle it out in the 29th annual North East Valley 10,000.

Plenty of intriguing contests take place right from the first day on the greens of the North East Valley Bowling Club next Friday.

The 32-strong field is drawn into four sections, each consisting of past and present world, Commonwealth and national champions.

Included are no fewer than five past champions of the Speight's-sponsored event which dates back to 1990.

The final last year was a replay of the Commonwealth Games final months earlier between Australian Aaron Wilson and Canadian Ryan Bester.

The 27 year-old Wilson became just the third player in the event's 29-year history to go back-to-back in the tournament, joining Jim Scott (2000-01) and Russell Meyer (2004-05). He is the only non New Zealander to achieve the feat.

With last year's finalists on opposite sides of the draw again this year, the final on Labour Day could bring another enthralling repeat.

Should both Wilson and Bester progress through to the final again, it will be for the third consecutive year.

As defending champion, Wilson will have little time to get his eye in as waiting to pounce in his section of eight are internationals Shaun Scott, Mark Watt, Seamus Curtin, Andrew Kelly, Andrew Wilson and New Zealand development squad member Caleb Hope.

Shannon McIlroy
Shannon McIlroy
Bester likewise, will also be thrown into the thick of competition as waiting to meet him in section play are internationals Phillip Skoglund, Tony Grantham, Sheldon Bagrie-Howley and Keanu Darby.

On the same side of the draw as Bester (34) is 2016 world champion and two-time New Zealand singles champion Shannon McIlroy (32).

Although in the New Zealand team at the Commonwealth Games early last year, McIlroy's form deserted him at the business end of singles play, as he was eliminated in quarterfinal play by Robert Paxton (England).

McIlroy heads a strong list of Black Jacks at the tournament, particularly in section one where much interest will be in fellow New Zealand internationals Jamie Hill, Mike Kernaghan, Shayne Sincock and Jordan King, along with the emerging Jonty Horwell.

As two of only three pl

ayers to have won the trophy three times - Rowan Brassey is the other - McIlroy and Kernaghan have the chance to become the first player to win an unprecedented fourth title.

And with both players on each side of the draw, any clash in post-section play could be an epic encounter.

McIlroy's first match in section play is against fellow international Sean O'Neill.

He faces other internationals in Gary Lawson in round five and Richard Girvan in round seven.

Play progresses throughout Labour Weekend and the final is set down for Monday.

NEV 10,000

The field 

Section one: Jonty Horwell, Ryan Burnett (Scotland), Jamie Hill, Jordan King, Andre Smith, Josh Boyd, Mike Kernaghan, Shayne Sincock.

Section two: Shaun Scott, Mark Watt, Sam Cooper, Seamus Curtin, Andrew Kelly, Peter Thorne, Aaron Wilson (Australia), Caleb Hope.

Section three: Raymond Martin, Elliot Mason, Shannon McIlroy, Sean O’Neill, Roger Stevens, Richard Girvan, Rory Soden, Gary Lawson.

Section four: Mike Carroll, Phillip Skoglund, Ryan Bester (Canada), Bill Clements, Tony Grantham, Sheldon Bagrie-Howley, Keanu Darby, Brent McEwan. 

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