Curling: Becker's team expected to defend title

Defending champion Sean Becker is expected to lead Maniototo to another win at the New Zealand championships beginning in Naseby tonight.

The team of Warren Dobson, Warren Kearney, Scott Becker and Sean Becker beat Dan Mustapic's team in the final in Dunedin last year.

Mustapic is expected to challenge again this year.

It is the second time the championships have been held at the Maniototo International Curling Rink since it was officially opened in May 2006.

Sean Becker (33) reached the pinnacle of his international career when he was the New Zealand flag-bearer at the official opening of the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, in 2006.

Becker first played for New Zealand in 1995 and was skip for five years, but he lost his place in the team after the Olympics.

Mustapic's team won the national title at Naseby two years ago and has represented New Zealand in Japan, but it failed to qualify for the world championships last year.

Lorne de Pape (53), who was in the New Zealand team at the Turin Olympics, joins Mustapic, as do Haymon Keeler and Peter de Boer.

There are seven teams in the men's championships, with the other serious contender being the New Zealand seniors team of John Sanders, Murray Petherick, Richard Morgan and Peter Becker.

The team will compete in the world seniors championships in Dunedin next April.

Favourite for the women's title is the composite team of Linda Geary, Kath Becker, Brydie Donald and Bridget Becker that represented New Zealand at last year's Pacific championships.

The other significant team is Catherine Inder, Marisa Jones, Kylie Bothering and Natalie Campbell.


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