Cam FergusonWaipawa shearer Cam Ferguson has blasted through the pain barrier to win the right to defend his World title, despite a back injury and without a single show win in the New Zealand summer.
His goal was achieved at the Southern Shears in Gore on Saturday night, when he was runner-up to Napier gun John Kirkpatrick in the final of a selection series which started three months ago in Christchurch.
He winced a couple of times on his way to finishing the gruelling 20-sheep stoush first in 19min 6.55sec, but soon afterwards made an early exit from the Shears’ Open final, after only eight of the 20 sheep in that event.
Finishing the selection series final less than four seconds after Ferguson, Kirkpatrick claimed the victory with the better quality points, the pair making it an all-Hawke’s Bay machines section in Shearing Sports New Zealand’s team for the championships during the Golden Shears in Masterton on February 29-March 3.
Shearing four coarse-wooled corriedales, six full-wool ewes and 10 second-shear sheep, it was possibly the longest competition shear of either man’s career.
Hawke’s Bay-based Northland shearer Rowland Smith was a further 1.813pts away in third place, and named as reserve shearer.
Ferguson won individual and teams titles at the 2010 championships in Wales, while reigning Golden Shears champion Kirkpatrick claimed a teams title two years earlier in Norway, where he was runner-up to teammate Paul Avery in the individual final.
Also selected on Saturday were woolhandlers Joanne Kumeroa, of Whanganui, and Joel Henare, of Gisborne, first and second in another selection series which started at the Golden Shears last year.
Kumeroa has won two individual World title and two teams titles, and Henare, aged 20, becomes the youngest New Zealander to compete at the championships which were first held as a shearing-only event in 1977.
Canterbury blades shearers Mike McConnell, of Albury, and Brian Thomson, of West Melton, were named in the squad after finishing first and second in their selection series which ended in Reefton a fortnight ago.
The big surprise of the day was the machine-shearing semi-final elimination of King Country icon David Fagan, who was the top qualifier after the earlier points rounds and who had been hoping to add to his tally of five individual World titles and seven teams titles, dating back to 1986.
The TAB confirmed today there had been two $10,000 bets on Fagan to win a place in the team, and a surprising level of punter interest which spokesman Kieran McAnulty said indicated the World Championships and the Golden Shears would attract a record betting focus for shearing sports.
The others in the final were South Island hopes Nathan Stratford, of Invercargill, and Jason Win, and Fagan’s nephew, James, while the only woolhandling series finalist to miss-out was Keryn Herbert, of e Awamutu.
Napier shearer and 2006 Golden Shears champion Dion King derived some compensation for also missing out on a place in the final by winning the Southern Shears Open final for a second time and his first South Island Shearer of the Year final.
It was a particularly big night for Kirkpatrick and Smith, who shore in all three finals.
The Southern Shears senior title was won by Wi Poutu Ngarangione, of Gisborne, with Tysson Hema, of Waipukurau the runner-up. The intermediate title was won by Linton Palmer, of Dipton, with Isle of Man shearer Daniel Creer second, and the junior final went to Andrew Leith, of Dipton, 1.66pts ahead of runner-up and Christchurch university student Ethan Pankhurst, from Masterton.
Henare on Friday successfully defended the Southern Shears open woohandling title, with the senior title going to Cushla Abraham, of Masterton, and the junior final won by Cherie Peterson, of Milton.
The South Island won the inter-island shearing and woolhandling teams challenge.
The World championships have attracted entries from 25 countries, including New Zealand-based shearers and woolhandlers representing Nuie and the Cook Islands.
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