Merimbula will host the Bowls Australia national championships this week.
In a true showdown of strength, all eight State and Territory Association winners in the disciplines of singles, pairs, triples and fours will playoff for the ultimate glory of being crowned the national champions.
The event returns to the calendar after a 12-year hiatus, having last been played at Harbord, NSW in 2004, and opened on Tuesday with matches to run right through to Friday.
Club Sapphire won the hosting rights to the reborn fixture for the next three years after opening their new bowling facility earlier this year.
Bowling development officer Michael Wilks said the greens are “state-of-the-art”. “We've had the best players in Australia on this and the feedback was it was one of the best greens in the nation,” he said.
Bowls Australia CEO Neil Dalrymple said the re-inclusion of the event on the national stage will once again provide a pathway for state and territory winners.
“The Australian Championships is a worthy inclusion on the sport’s calendar, and will provide an opportunity for players to progress from their respective state and territory championships to compete for coveted national titles,” Dalrymple said.
Meanwhile, Club Sapphire CEO Damien Foley said the developments at the club made it the ideal venue to host the re-introduced event.
“We at Club Sapphire Merimbula take great pride in developing the sport of bowls, both in our region, in New South Wales and on the national stage,” Mr Foley said.
“Given the opportunity, we are confident we can provide a fantastic product as host venue for this prestigious event.”
Australian Jackaroos squad member and 2017 Cruiseabout Male Bowler of the Year Barrie Lester will be looking to extend his recent streak of among a start-studded Men’s Singles contingent.
Lester will be joined by fellow Jackaroos teammates Aron Sheriff and Nathan Rice, in what will be a vital hit-out ahead of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
The Women’s Singles features the recently crowned Champion of Champions Singles title-holder Colleen Orr and 2016 Indoor Singles winner Natasha Scott.
Scott will also be contesting the Women’s Pairs with Genevieve Delves, while Jackaroo Lynsey Clarke and Natasha Jones will be looking to bring the silverware back to Queensland.
In the men’s side of the draw, Glenroy’s young duo of John McCarron and Ben Hubber will aim to back up from their Victorian title.
Bowls Australia have been featuring some of the top level matches in live-feed videos on social media with more to be covered throughout.
Spectators are welcome to watch the play.
For more information on the region and the event, visit www.sapphirecoast.com.au/australian-championships/