Endeavour and Waioeka shields at stake
The first of the challenges between centres takes place in Whakatane on Sunday, with Gisborne East Coast taking on Bay of Plenty.
Open men and women plus junior men and women will play for the Endeavour Shield (for open-class competitors) and the Waioeka Shield (for players with eight years' experience or less).
All divisions have some interesting selections, and the players will be keen to show they can foot it with other centres.
All divisions play three rounds. Rounds 1 and 2 will comprise two singles, one pair and a four. The third round will comprise one singles match, two pairs and a triples.
Last season the juniors won the Waioeka Shield. The final score had been in favour of Bay of Plenty, but it was discovered a mistake had been made in the count-up, and Gisborne East Coast juniors had indeed scored more points.
Because this challenge is so early in the season, some players are only starting to get into the rhythm of play.
In the junior women's team, Paige Richter and Ginny Sherriff take the singles spots in the first round, Kay Goldsbury and Libby Clay the pairs, and Kathryn Flaugere, Adrienne Torrie, Dianne Oates and Joan Gladhill the fours.
In the junior men's games, Willy Murray and Geoff Pinn play the singles, Ray Young and Peter Clay the pairs, and Tim Sherriff, Vern Withey, Don Oates and Andrew Ball the fours.
Open women Tanya Harrison and Dianne Phillips play the singles, Carol Hawes and Leslie McIntosh the pairs, and Queenie Takurua, Sarah Brown, Joy Davis and Erin Sutherland the fours.
Open men Jamey Ferris and Charlie Ure will play the singles, Steve Goldsbury and George Vaaotua the pairs, and Adam McIlroy, Bob McIlroy, Mick Maunder and Ben Elkington the fours.
Each individual can play in a discipline only once throughout the day, which makes it interesting, not only for the selector but also the players.
It's good to see the return of a couple of players who have been out of the game for a while. Dianne Phillips and Adam McIlroy have been away from the game through work and health issues. Adam is the brother of world singles champion and New Zealand team front man Shannon McIlroy. Dianne started playing back in the 1980s but has been out of the game for eight years.
Many of the players travelling have a lot of knowledge of the game, and will be able to guide newer players. — Starweed