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Fagan - World Champs biggest moment of career

It's been a long wait but we finally have the New Zealand Shearing and Woolhandling team confirmed to compete at the World Championships in Invercargill in February.

Most of the talk has been about who isn't there with Rowland Smith missing out on selection, but in Johnny Kirkpatrick and Nathan Stratford, we still have an incredibly strong New Zealand combination.

You couldn't wish for a better competitor than John to handle the pressure on any of the wool types, whether it's full or second shear or lambs. Mentally, he's as tough as any competitor I've ever known. I have no doubt he will excel and give his best possible performance at Worlds.

Nathan has been knocking on the door of big competitions for many years and he always performs very well in competitions in his home patch down south. Together, they are great prospects for the World Team's Title and there's a strong chance one of them could become World Champion.

Their toughest opposition will, without doubt, come from New Zealand Scotsman Gavin Mutch, who has won it before, with Ivan Scott from Ireland, the Welsh shearers and Gavin's Scottish teammate Hamish Mitchell all likely to be right in the mix as well.

In the woolhandling, Joel Henare has a proven track record and will be very difficult to beat in Invercargill. Mary-Anne Baty has been proving herself for a number of years in the Open class throughout the country so they too form a very strong combination.

Blade shearer Tony Dobbs is an amazing man. He's got the experience having been to World Championships before and both he and Phil Oldfield are in a position to make the Open World Final. But the South Africans have been so hard to beat in this competition through the years. They will take some tipping over but hopefully the Kiwi boys will be up to the task.

Competing at a World Championship in front of a home crowd is a unique experience. In Nathan Stratford's case, the crowd could play more of a factor, being a home favourite in front of a parochial Southland crowd. For him it's going to be huge and it's great for our Kiwi team.

But from a personal point of view, when I'm competing anywhere I don't really mind what crowd you're in. Even if it's a hostile crowd, you're focusing on what you should be doing yourself. Although, you'd always rather have the crowd with you than against you.

Our six-strong New Zealand team will be enjoying the moment right now. It will still be a buzz from getting into the team last week. The World Champs may not be far away, but when you are in a situation like this you can't wait for it to arrive.

Once January rolls around, the big competitions start with Lumsden and Winton in the south and Taihape, Rotorua, Wairoa and Tauranga up north. At these events the heat will start ramping up on our competitors. They will be competing each weekend and they'll be in the limelight at these shows because all anybody will be talking about will be the World Championships. That's when the real hype will start and the pressure will follow.

Perfect preparation for the biggest moment in each of their careers in Invercargill in February.


Sir David Fagan has won 12 world titles, is the Chairman of Shearing Sports New Zealand and a member of the Organising Committee for the 2017 World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Invercargill from 8 to 11 February. Visit www.worldshearingchamps.com for full information.


 

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