BOWLSSeveral big names face challenging sections on a likely wet opening day of fours in the 55th annual South Pacific carnival.
Warilla Bowling Club will host nine of the 18 sections of fours, plus all finals on Sunday week.
The 10-day tournament is the biggest in the southern hemisphere with about 900 bowlers entering the fours, plus singles, which begins tomorrow and pairs, which starts on Sunday.
All reigning champions are to defend their crowns, with Wiseman Park’s Shane Garvey the defending five-time Player of the Carnival after making South Pacific history 12 months ago in reaching the final of all three disciplines.
Garvey has also won more South Pacific titles than any other player – four singles titles, two pairs titles and three fours crowns.
Defending singles champion John Green is also playing all three disciplines and looking to add to his two singles titles, four pairs and two fours titles.
The fours competition looks wide open, with three members of the winning Windang team beginning the defence of their title at Dapto Citizens BC this morning.
Skip Rick Malley, Geoff Walker and David Tyrrell are joined by Zac Gabrielson, who replaces Martin O’Brien in the team which produced a dramatic final-shot win over Shane Garvey’s team in the 2012 final.
A number of former fours champions will skipper teams, including John Green, Scott Bateup and Garvey, while other contenders look to be strong Warilla sides skipped by Aaron Teys and Jeremy Henry, while bowls legend Steve Glasson skips a side which includes his son Ben.
Section eight at Warilla BC looks to be one of the real contests of the fours sectional phase with world No 2 Jeremy Henry and his Warilla partners taking on the strong Dapto Citizens team skipped by Brendan Aquilina.
Carnival headquarters Warilla BC is proudly showing off $6.3 million worth of refurbishments ahead of its 50th year in 2014. Warilla would love to begin its anniversary celebrations with a local member winning a South Pacific title and Henry is taking the carnival seriously, having entered the singles, fours and pairs for the first time.
‘‘It’d be great if a player from Warilla could win a title this year,’’ Henry said.
‘‘I know our team in the fours have been drawn in a really tough section but that’s the nature of playing in a carnival, you get some really interesting draws and we’ll be going out there doing our best.’’
Dapto Citizens (sections 10-12), Bellambi (sections 13-15) and Oak Flats (sections 16-18) are the other Zone 16 clubs hosting today’s fours, with the section winners advancing to Monday’s post-sectional round.
And with Warilla BC boasting a world-class indoor facility and not enough outdoor greens available from Zone 16 clubs, the South Pacific will be played indoors for the first time in its 55-year history for some matches in the singles sectional round.