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Aussies ‘busting’ for trans-Tasman shearing and wool tests

Sheep Central, August 29, 2022

Sam Mackrill competing at the recent Australian Sheep and Wool Show at Bendigo.

TRANS-TASMAN shearing and wool handling tests between Australia and New Zealand will resume at Bendigo in October after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID pandemic.

And Victorian shearer Sam Mackrill will take his place in the Australian team for the first time.

A Shearing Sports New Zealand team of three machine shearers, two blades shearers and two wool handlers will face tests against Australia on the first day of the October 21-22 Australian national championships in Bendigo, Vic.

Australia’s trans-Tasman shearers will be New South Wale’s Daniel McIntyre, South Australian Nathan Meaney and Sam Mackrill from Rochester, taking the place of Western Australian shearer Brendan Boyle who has other commitments.

The Australian wool handlers will be Rachael Hutchison from Gilgandra New South Wales and Aroha Garvin from Western Australia.

Sports Shear Australia’s immediate past president Tom Kelly said the Australian team was keen to get back to compete against the new Zealanders after losing the last trans-Tasman shearing and wool handling tests in New Zealand in 2020.

“We’re busting to get back, it is such as important part of the industry – competition shearing and wool handling – we’ve had that lapse and they’re busting to get back.”

Australia’s blade shearers will be John Dall from South Australia and Ken French from Victoria.

It will be New Zealand’s first international shearing sports competition since New Zealand won the machine shearing and wool handling tests at the Golden Shears in Masterton in 2020, just a fortnight before New Zealand went into lockdown in the Government’s first big attempt to block the spread of COVID-19.

With the usual sequence of team selection events broken, the Shearing Sports New Zealand  national committee decided on August 15 that 2021 PGG Vetmed national shearing circuit winner Leon Samuels would join 2022 winner and fellow Invercargill shearer Nathan Stratford in the team, with the third member being the best-placed other New Zealand competitor in the Open final at the New Zealand Merino Shears opening the 2022-2023 SSNZ season in Alexandra on September 30-October 1. It will be Stratford’s 15th trans-Tasman test and Samuels’ first.

The blades team will comprise 2021 Christchurch Golden Blades winner and 2019 World champion Allan Oldfield, of Geraldine, and the Open blades winner at the Waimate Spring Shears on October 7-8, and the woolhandlers will come from the 2021 and 2022 Merino Shears Open finals.

The 2021 final was won by Joel Henare, of Gisborne, who has contested a wool handling series-record 14 tests.

Shearing Sports New Zealand chairman Sir David Fagan said the team would be confirmed at the Merino Shears.

Annual home-and-away machine shearing tests at Euroa in Victoria each October and the Golden Shears in Masterton started in Australia in 1974.

Industrial issues in Australia ended the contests 10 years later, but they resumed in 1997 with Australian legs rotating among venues of the Australian championships. Wool handling was added in 1998, and blades shearing began regular trans-Tasman tests in 2010, with New Zealand legs held at either Christchurch or Waimate.

At the time the pandemic started, Australia held the ascendancy in the machine shearing with 36 wins in 67 tests, but New Zealand was on top in the wool handling, with wins in 34 of the 44 tests. New Zealand has won all 13 blades shearing tests.

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