Bowls Blitz Back in Town

by Pieter Harris

The Kardinya Bowling Club will be the place to be when the BWA Bowls Blitz roars back into action this weekend on Sunday 3rd July.

The Eight Franchise managers have been busy putting together their squads and getting their selections into shape over the past month. Each manager was able to retain only two players from last year’s eight-player squad with all other players eligible to nominate for the draft

We first look at the top four franchises from last year to see who they have retained and who they have drafted. Franchises five to eight will be in a future story

Therese Hastings returns in 2022 as the manager of the 2021 Champion’s, Blooms the Chemist Stars with some familiar names also returning to the squad. Last year’s team captain Kristina Krstic was unavailable for the competition due to prior commitments, as well as looking forward to winning Gold Medals at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in August. Blake Butler (Manning) will step up as the new captain with big boots to fill, while also retained is the newly crowned Rosenthal Medallist Blake Nairn (Cambridge) to form the foundation of the 2022 squad. In the draft, Manager Hastings was able to get her hands on two more players from last year’s Stars squad, with Joel Leeson (Denison) and Segan Pasalich (Osborne Park) returning. Leeson was an inspired inclusion and no doubt Leeson’s sporting background stood him in good stead as he rose to the occasion no matter what position he was put in. Pasalich played beyond his years and showed what a force he could become in a few short years. The four remaining new members drafted are Women’s squad member Robyn O’Brien (Manning), last year’s Over 60’s team members Noelene Abe (Corrigin), and Chris Lander (Sorrento), with Kristian Carr (Goomalling) rounding out the 2022 Stars squad. Obrien has been a regular Women’s State team member and multiple state title winner. Abe is a legend in WA bowls and shows no signs of letting up as she refuses to buckle under the pressure from the next generation of women’s bowlers. Lander has been an outstanding contributor to bowls in general and has been getting his just desserts not only at the Over 60 level but also at the Open level as he spearheads Sorrento’s continued involvement in Premier League Pennant. Carr played for the Enforcers last year and showed glimpses of brilliance which he will look to reproduce in Blitz 2022.

The AFGRI Pinnacles have a new manager this year, with former manager Linda Warburton returning to the playing ranks. Bowls WA President Doug Kelly has taken the reigns and is an unknown quantity in the managing/coaching ranks, so all the pressure is on him after the Pinnacle’s success last year. The Pinnacles were Runner Ups in the inaugural Blitz, but Manager Kelly has taken strong steps early by putting together a well balanced squad destined to push towards the top again. Last year’s captain John Slavich is unavailable this year, but Russell Bates (Doubleview) has stepped into the breach and will no doubt provide plenty of encouraging voice to help his teammates as well leading from the front to get the bowls in the head early. Young gun Jack East (Osborne Park) has also been retained by Manager Kelly as he looks to make every bowl winner in his bid for State Team selection. East continues to turn heads and had a solid showing in the recent Australian Open on the Gold Coast in the Pairs. Four of the remaining squad members played in other squads last year, with women state squad members Kaitlin Tyrell (Manning) and Shari Solly (North Beach) are sure to add some experience in the cutthroat competition. Tyrell is a noted front-end jet but can play back if required. Solly can fill a number of positions, back or front, she will not be out of sorts anywhere she is required to play. Ben Leggett (Joondalup) is doing a wonderful job at Joondalup as they look to push t the top of Men’s Metro Pennant. Leggett’s leadership is something to be admired on and off the green. Another versatile player, it will be interesting to see how Manager Kelly uses Leggett’s strengths. Sian Smith (York) returns for another tilt at the Blitz. Smith has played at a high level in country bowls for a number of years and is not out of place in the 2022 Blitz.  Coming into the competition for the first time is Countryweek Men’s Pairs Champion Shane Giudice-Nairn (Geraldton) and Premier League player Mark Rollings (Osborne Park). Giudice-Nairn will add some flair to the Pinnacles squad and was a highly sort after commodity. There is no doubt Giudice-Nairn will rise to the occasion and give it everything he has. Rollings has been a consistent member of the Osborne Park Premier League team. He will not take a backward step and will look to make every bowl a winner.

The Senior Recreation Council (SRC) Sharpshooters have a new manager in 2022 with Margaret Anderson taking over the reins. Manager Anderson has been playing and watching bowls for many years and is looking forward to putting all that knowledge to good use as she targets the top four and a Grand Final win for the Sharpshooters. Manager Anderson’s first steps were outstanding by retaining two of the most inform players of the recently ended season. 2021-22 Connie Hicks Brooch winner Lisa Featherby (Mosman Park) returns to Captain her squad to greater things in the 2022 Blitz. The Sharpshooters finished second on the ladder after the home and away rounds but were unable to win their Semi-Final and therefore bowed out of the competition early in the 2021 Finals. Featherby will be determined not to let that happen again as the Sharpshooters go in as one of the favorites going into the 2022 Blitz. The second retained player was also from Mosman Park and had an outstanding 2021-22 season. Dale Marsland will be looking to fit right next to Featherby as second in charge and to hold the trophy high at the end of the tournament. During the 2022 Blitz draft, Manager Anderson was able to hit home run after home run. Last year a manager and this year a player, Linda Warburton (Mosman Park) is an outstanding addition to the squad. Not only does she have a close playing relationship with Featherby that will pay dividends, but Warburton also had an outstanding season and is a true professional on the green. Ryan Brown (Osborne Park) was a great success at the Stars last year and was a big contributor to their championship, the Sharpshooters will expect nothing less this year. Brad Gillingham (North Beach) has a lot of experience and can play multiple positions, a must for this type of competition. Sean Mawdsley (Cambridge) is another who can play multiple positions but will be particularly effective at the backend of any disciplines. Mawdsley would have been highly desired by all the franchises and Manager Anderson did an amazing job to grab him as well as the other assets she drafted. Cameron Green was a member of the Mt Lawley machine that got them promoted into Premier League this coming season. Green is only a couple of years along from winning the Men’s Champion of Champion Novice Singles and is sure to thrive with the experience of the players around him. Last but certainly not least is Peter Wachmer (Fremantle). Wachmer has been at the back end of his fair share of tournaments over the years and is vying for an Over 60’s State Team position so will be all out to make every shot a winner.

The Dyenamic Cyclones will once again be managed by Tony Hockey. After making the top four last year, Manager Hockey has three players from last year’s squad returning in their quest to improve for 2022 Blitz glory. Clive Adams (Cambridge) has been retained and will once again captain the squad. Adams took out the inaugural Blitz MVP last year, so once again he will be looking to lead the way for the team. The second player retained by Manager Hockey was Cameron Harris (Cambridge). Harris named in last year’s state team will be looking forward to keeping his name in the frame with big performances on each of the three Bowls Blitz dates. Also retained via the draft is the evergreen 2021 Over 60’s team member Neville Stevens (Osborne Park). Stevens was one of the unsung heroes for the Cyclones in the 2021 Blitz and he will be keen to continue the consistency he showed the Over 60 selectors. Four of the remaining drafted players all took part in last year’s Blitz for various squads, while Mick Sweeney (North Beach) must have made a good impression on Manager Hockey when he substituted for the Cyclones on the last day, including finals, last year. Sweeney has plenty of big-game experience with previous involvement with the Tasmanian State Team before relocating to WA last year. Women’s State Squad members Jenny Parker (Mosman Park) and Shaan Saunders (Osborne Park) showed they will be very solid squad members after very good performances last year and add to the depth of this squad. Over 60’s fan favorite and Hall of Famer Lee Poletti (Mosman Park) will add the class required to win the big competitions. There is no bigger competitor in the game than Poletti, and she will make you pay if you relax for one second. Gavin Faulkner (Doubleview) rounds out the squad and was stolen across after being a valuable member of the Chargers last year. With a recent Mt Lawley Masters Singles Trophy under his belt, Faulkner comes into the 2022 Blitz with supreme confidence.