Top honour for Bagrie-Howley

Sheldon Bagrie-Howley seen here playing a shot in a national fours competition earlier this year,...
Sheldon Bagrie-Howley seen here playing a shot in a national fours competition earlier this year, has been named the 2022-23 Bowls New Zealand male player of the year. PHOTO: BOWLS NEW ZEALAND
Gore bowler Sheldon Bagrie-Howley has added another accolade to the best year of his career.

Bagrie-Howley has been named the Bowls New Zealand men’s player of the year.

The 28-year-old with the golden touch received the premier honour at the organisation’s awards at the weekend — and it cannot have been too hard a decision for the judges to make.

Everything Bagrie-Howley did this year came up trumps.

His 2023 started in spectacular style when he won the New Zealand singles title in Auckland in January.

He was the first Southlander to win the men’s title in 108 years of the national championships.

None of his opponents even reached double figures in the first-to-21 games, and he went through six post-section games to finally win the title 21-15 against former world champion Shannon McIlroy.

There was another history-making result in March when Bagrie-Howley led his Gore Bowling Club to victory in the national interclub sevens, also a first for a Southland team.

Other outstanding performances forced the hands of the Blackjacks selectors.

Bagrie-Howley and Selina Goddard were second in the New Zealand open mixed pairs, and he joined Caleb Hope, Keanu Darby and Oliver Mason to reach the quarterfinals of the fours.

Bagrie-Howley was also to the fore when his Southland team finished second — out of 26 teams — in the New Zealand intercentre sevens tournament, and he won the Southland triples and singles to take him to 21 centre titles.

Those results made it difficult for New Zealand selectors Peter Belliss and Sharon Sims to ignore the man from the South.

Bagrie-Howley made his Blackjacks debut at the Multi-Nations Series on the Gold Coast, winning four of his seven games in the singles to finish fifth.

He again earned national selection for the world championships in Australia at the end of August.

Another southern star was honoured at the Bowls New Zealand awards.

Darron Wolland, a representative of the Brighton club who has spondylitis (inflammatory arthritis), was named disabled bowler of the year.

Wolland burst on to the scene when he won the New Zealand disabled singles title in Invercargill last year, and he won the open disabled singles at the national championships in Auckland in January.

He made his international debut with the Blackjacks at the Gold Coast world championships, pairing with the experienced Mark Noble.

World champion Tayla Bruce was predictably named New Zealand women’s bowler of the year.

Taranaki youngster Briar Atkinson (emerging player), Nelson stalwart Margaret Eames (umpire), Johnsonville craftsman Brendon Gibson (greenskeeper) and Tauranga guru Gayle Melrose (coach) scooped the other major individual awards.