WORLD champion shearer Rowland Smith has accepted a place in the New Zealand team for the opening match in the four-test C.P.Wool shearing series against Wales at Saturday’s Rangitikei Sports Shears in Marton.
The Hawke’s Bay gun, unbeaten in seven show finals this summer and whose 2014 World title in Ireland was one of 20 wins in his last 22 finals, will fill in for Canterbury shearer Tony Coster, Shearing Sports New Zealand chairman Sir David Fagan has announced.
Coster, runner-up in last year’s New Zealand Shears Circuit, but chosen in place of the winner and then-retiring and unknighted Fagan, is in Australia and unavailable for this week’s match, but will return later in the series.
Smith will join Dion King, a Hawke’s Bay shearer who recently bought a farm east of Masterton, and who claimed his place in the team when he won the New Zealand Championships Open final in Te Kuiti last year.
The Kiwis will be out to maintain a clean sheet against Welsh teams in New Zealand, although Coster, King, and briefly out-of-retirement Fagan drew 2-all in a series last July in Wales, where New Zealand hasn’t won a series since 2011.
Shearing for Wales will be Richard Jones, of Corwen, and Gwion Evans, of Machynlleth.
The itinerary for the Wales team’s tour and the C.P.Wool Shearing Test Series is: February 6, v New Zealand, Rangitikei Shearing Sports, at Marton; February 13, v New Zealand, Otago Shearing Championships, at Balclutha; February 20, v New Zealand, Southern Shears, at Gore; February 26, v Taumarunui Shears Selection, at Taumarunui; February 27, v New Zealand, Apiti Sports, at Apiti; February 28, v New Zealand, Pahiatua Shears, at Pahiatua.