The biggest bowls tournament in the southern hemisphere begins tomorrow with 79 teams chasing the fours crown in the South Pacific carnival.
The 10-day tournament features more than 900 players in fours, pairs and singles with Fairy Meadow Bowling Club to host the final week as carnival headquarters.
Reigning player of the carnival Matt Sargeant won't be back to chase a record fifth award having left the region to take up a job at Kempsey Heights BC.
But the tournament has still attracted a strong field of local and visiting players, headed by Australian bowls legend Steve Glasson, who with his son, Ben, are the defending pairs champion.
The fours begins tomorrow with Fairy Meadow, Corrimal, Wiseman Park, Kiama and Albion Park bowling clubs hosting the 20 sections.
Wiseman Park's Glen Taylor, who played as the third to Sargeant, will skip a team this carnival and is partnered by his clubmates Gary Cooke (lead) and Dave Warman (second), plus Albion Park's Dean Aitkin.
The carnival continues on Friday with 53 sections in singles and on Saturday with 48 sections in pairs.
In singles, defending champion Shane Garvey is chasing a fifth title and will be hard to beat, especially with last year's runner-up and two-time singles champion Sargeant not in the field.
Garvey has won the singles while playing for four different clubs; Merrylands (2001), Oak Flats (2004), Corrimal (2005) and Wiseman Park in 2012.
Finally, Steve and Ben Glasson became the first father and son team to win the pairs in 53 years and they will be looking to defend their crown from Saturday's sectional round.
Fifteen Illawarra clubs will host sectional rounds in singles, while 14 clubs will host matches in the pairs sectional rounds.
The post-sectional phase of the carnival begins on Sunday with the fours, while all the finals are scheduled for Fairy Meadow BC on Saturday week, January 5. The tournament has again attracted some interstate players with Brian Walker, a member at the South Johnstone club in Far North Queensland, making the longest trip.