Wales On Top Of World Shearing - But Can They Win In New Zealand ?

Published: Wed 13 Mar 2024 09:29 AM
Call it consorting with the enemy if you like, but it’s just the nature of the game for Welsh shearer Llyr Jones and his Wools of New Zealand Wales-New Zealand series rivals ahead of the first test on Saturday.
Wales representative Jones has been working with New Zealand team members Paerata Abraham and David Gordon in Wairarapa woolsheds for most of the last four months.
But the moccasins are now on the other feet as the daily camaraderie of the work-day gives way to test-match rivalry as Jones and teammate Gethin Lewis take on the New Zealand pair in a three-test series, starting at the Waimarino Shears in Raetihi – with Wales now on top in World shearing but yet to win a test match in New Zealand.
“It’s been a privilege working with them and it will be good going to battle with them as we are good mates,” Jones said, with Wales, like the national rugby side, yet to win a test in New Zealand after decades of trying. “They’re both great shearers.”
Further tests will be shorn at the Waitomo Caves Sports on March 23, and on April 6 at the New Zealand Shears in Te Kuiti, with Abraham and Gordon just as determined to get a win after last July losing all three tests in Wales, where New Zealand’s most-recent series wins were in in 2011 and 2019.
Lewis was in a Welsh Development team pair beaten 3-0 in New Zealand last year, but a lot has happened with Welsh shearing in the ensuing 12 months, highlighted by the domination of the World championships by shearers Gwion Evans and Richard Jones, and followed by Lewis winning the Champion Shearer of Wales title.
Having shorn in New Zealand each summer for a decade, for contractor Brendan Mahony in Hawke’s Bay, he has had three placings in Open finals over recent months.
Jones has made several semi-finals in his fifth season working in New Zealand, but is known for his pace, having won a speed shear in Dannevirke on February 2, and having shorn 836 lambs in nine hours during the setting of a nine-hours British two-stand record in August 2022.
Abraham won selection in the team after winning the New Zealand Shears Circuit final in Te Kuiti last year, while Gordon was selected after finishing sixth in the New Zealand Shears Open final.
Abraham won the New Zealand Crossbred Lambshearing Championship in Southland and the Royal Horowhenua Show’s Open title in Levin on successive days in January, while Gordon won the Central Hawke’s Bay Shears final in Waipukurau in November.
Both Welsh shearers take heart from the achievements of Richard Jones and Gwion Jones in winning the World titles in 2019 and 2013 respectively and the pair’s teams win in Scotland last June.
“We will be going in to the test hoping we can get the job done,” Jones said. “Both of us will be give our all into it and hopefully coming back with the win.”
“We are lucky to have two World champion shearers at home in Wales and it inspires us to follow in their footsteps,” he said.
Lewis. taking a break in Northland this week, said: “Rich and Gwion have achieved some amazing things in the past few years - and World Champs: Two men at the top of their game in the UK and the Northern Hemisphere.”
“I’m really chuffed with what I’ve accomplished in the past two seasons, especially winning the Champion Shearer of Wales,” he said. “But I’ve still got a lot to learn and more to achieve.”
The Waimarino Shears also include Open, Senior, Intermediate, Junior and Novice competitions, with all those in the test also chasing the Open title.

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