Kiwi shearers fire among international field as world championships approach

Nick Jeffrey, January 23, 2017
NZ wool handler Joel Henare.

NZ wool handler Joel Henare.

NEW Zealand shearing and wool handling team members Nathan Stratford and Joel Henare sounded a warning to other world championship hopefuls last week.

In the lead-up to next month’s 40th anniversary championships in Invercargill, the two had comprehensive wins in two shearing and woolhandling competitions in Southland over the weekend.

Henare continued his recent domination of the Northern Southland Community Shears on Friday, winning his third open title in four years, thanks to a strong all-round performance in the final. He backed that up in emphatic fashion on Saturday at the Winton A&P Show, earning his first Southland Shears title since 2012.

It’s another important step in Henare’s world championship preparation as the 2012 World Champion eyes his tilt at a second title at next month’s event.

“These events are very important because it gets you in to competition mode.

“You want to do well and you are here to win but a lot of it is a dummy run for world champs,” Henare said.

“In some ways, you want a few curve-balls thrown at you, an over-sized fleece or something similar to strike out of the blue so that when you do get to world champs you’re more familiar with handling that kind of circumstance.

“I’ve been doing a lot of mental work, just trying to get my mentality right to handle the pressure and trying to get used to the type of wool here in Southland to get my head around the Southland crossbreds,” Henare said.

Stratford claims back-to-back victories

NZ shearer Nathan Stratford. Picture - Shearing Sports NZ.

NZ shearer Nathan Stratford. Picture – Shearing Sports NZ.

Similarly, Nathan Stratford claimed back-to-back victories with a degree of comfort, claiming both the Northern Southland and Southland Shears titles, each for a third time.

Stratford was super consistent across both events, earning the lowest penalties for quality in each final, blitzing his 20 full-wool Romney ewes on Friday and then 20 lambs on Saturday to provide another confidence booster, less than three weeks out from his world championship debut in his hometown.

“There’s room for improvement and it’s all about fine tuning now.

“The training is paying off,” he said.

“I wasn’t as fatigued as a normally would be after a final.

“They were big sheep on Friday and they weren’t that friendly so I am happy, particularly with my quality,” he said.

“These shows are very important for me.

“You know where you are after a 20-sheep hit-out and know where your competitors are,” Stratford said.

“You can’t go into it blind.”

Smith firing in the north

World shearing champion Rowland Smith. Picture: Shearing Sports NZ.

World shearing champion Rowland Smith. Picture: Shearing Sports NZ.

Meanwhile further north, 2014 world champion Rowland Smith continued his winning ways earning victory at the Wairoa A&P Show in northern Hawkes Bay on Saturday. New Zealand team member John Kirkpatrick, who was originally planning to compete in Southland before mechanical issues saw his flight delayed, placed second with 2012 World Champion Gavin Mutch of Scotland third.

There was a real international flavour to the weekend events, with seven nationalities represented in finals at Winton on Saturday. Among the visitors to Southland were Scottish international and World teams title-holder Hamish Mitchell, who qualified for the Open Final in Winton and Irish title hopeful and World record holder Ivan Scott, who also looked in good form in qualifying for Friday’s Open Final in Five Rivers.

The 2017 World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships will be held at ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill from February 8-11. Tickets and event information are available at

Open final (20 sheep): Nathan Stratford (Invercargill) 18min 39.87sec, 63.9435pts, 1; Brett Roberts (Mataura) 19min 19.44sec, 70.572pts, 2; Paerata Abraham (Masterton) 18min 35.63sec, 70.8315pts, 3; Troy Pyper (Invercargill) 17min 57.03sec, 73.7015pts, 4; Ivan Scott (Ireland) 17min 41.56sec, 74.978pts, 5.
Open final: Joel Henare (Gisborne) 101.816pts, 1; Tia Potae (Milton) 124.41pts, 3; Candy Hiri (Mataura) 154.754pts, 3; Pagan Karauria (Alexandra) 162.96pts.

Open final (20 lambs): Nathan Stratford (Invercargill) 18min 52.28sec, 62.724pts, 1; Darin Forde (Lorneville) 19min 27.94sec, 67.197pts, 2; Dion Morrell (Alexandra) 19min 19.13sec, 67.2065pts, 3; Brett Roberts (Mataura) 19min 7.56sec, 67.428pts, 4; Casey Bailey (Riverton) 19min 23.5sec, 70.175pts, 5; Hamish Mitchell (Scotland) 18min 28.78sec, 70.439pts, 6.
Open final: Joel Henare (Gisborne) 33.462pts, 1; Tia Potae (Milton) 50.044pts, 2; Keryn Herbert (Te Awamutu) 60.174pts, 3; Pagan Karauria (Alexandra) 64.792pts, 4.


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