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Bruce, the champion in 2015, will benefit from home green advantage, while Bagrie-Howley (Gore) and Curtin (Stokes Valley) are also previous winners of the tournament.
The trio are vying to succeed reigning champion Finbar McGuigan, a clubmate of Curtin, who is back to defend the crown.
Of the 32 bowlers lining up, 15 have already represented New Zealand in high performance, development or age group teams, illustrating the quality of a field also made up of a host of senior provincial quality players, including last year’s national men’s singles champion Taylor Horn (Mangere).
Paris Baker (New Lynn), who won the world under-25 women’s singles title in England last year while representing Tonga, is another leading contender.
“This is a tournament that showcases the very best of New Zealand’s young bowling talent, we’re very pleased this event has been recognised in Bowls New Zealand’s ‘summer of bowls’ programme,’’ said convenor Kerrie Bruce.
Section play will be held on Friday and Saturday with the semi-finals and final to follow on Sunday.
The player list, draw and results can be found at www.burnsidebowlingclub.com.