A changing of the guard for national bowls team
Kyneton young-gun Chloe Stewart will face a baptism by fire after being named to carry Australia’s hopes in the blue-ribbon singles discipline during her international debut at the Trans Tasman in March.
Despite still being eligible to compete in the restricted-age Development team event; which features two under-18 and two under-25 players, Stewart, 19, has been hand-picked by Bowls Australia’s national selection panel to headline the women’s Open event in the coveted singles role, in a move that truly signals the changing of the guard for the sport of bowls.
Stewart has enjoyed a stellar year on and off the green, which included claiming the women’s world under-25 title at the World Junior Championships last November, and being named Bowls Australia’s Female Under-18 Bowler of the Year at the annual Awards Night earlier in 2014, while she most recently impressed the powers that be across the ditch in New Zealand last weekend, where she finished third overall at the Stuart Buttar Burnside Invitation Pairs in Christchurch; a mixed gender pairs competition that featured eight Australian high performance teams.
In spite of her tender age, and being the only Open player selected from outside the sport’s top high performance squad; the Australian Jackaroos, National Coach Steve Glasson was buoyant about Stewart’s selection and optimistic about her ability to deliver on the senior international stage.
“Chloe has had a standout 12 months at senior and under-25 levels and has proven beyond a doubt that she is ready to make the leap in to the main Australian team,” Glasson said.
“Her selection is a testament not only her ability to perform on the green, but also her levelheadedness and maturity beyond her years, and I’m confident that this will be the start of a long an illustrious career.”
Stewart is among a team of 20-players named to compete at the 2015 Trans Tasman event in the milestone centenary year of Australia and New Zealand’s involvement in the First World War.
Also chosen for a maiden Trans Tasman appearance is former Scottish international Anne Johns, who last donned the green and gold uniform at a capped event in Malaysia in 2009.
Johns, who reigned supreme at last year’s Australian Open in the singles and fours disciplines, was the second half of Stewart’s combination at the Stuart Buttar pairs event over the weekend, where the duo finished ahead of every other Australian high performance team.
Rounding out the women’s Open team is Australian Jackaroos trio Lynsey Clarke, Claire Turley and Kelsey Cottrell.
Australian Captain Clarke has been named to contest her tenth Trans Tasman event, while Turley will resume her 179-game international career after last representing the nation in 2012.
Despite publicly declaring her intention to enjoy some respite after almost a decade of international representation, Cottrell, 24, has had to cut her hiatus unexpectedly short, after selectors implored her to make herself available for the event.
Her intention was to focus on the domestic and state bowls scene, which would also allow her to prioritise her new part-time communications role with Bowls Australia, before concentrating on gaining selection for the Asia Pacific Championships tournament later in the year, but instead she has been tasked with the influential skipping role in the triples and fours.
Leading the charge for the men’s Open team is Club Helensvale’s former world number two Brett Wilkie, who has been handed the plum singles position; a role he last played in the national team in 2012.
Joining Wilkie are three out of four of his 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games teammates; Aron Sherriff, Wayne Ruediger and Matthew Flapper, while 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medallist and dual world champion Mark Casey is back in the fold after missing selection for the Northern Hemisphere campaign.
Omitted from selection for the sport’s first international …