Community shears title ‘first big win’

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Mataura shearer Brett Roberts is celebrating his “first big win”, after taking the Northern Southland Community Shears open-class title on Friday.

This is the fourth season the 24-year-old has been shearing in the grade since he won the Golden Shears International Shearing and Woolhandling Championships senior final in 2014.

delighted with the result.

“That was my first big win – I was pretty stoked.

“It’s always sort of been a dream to win a big competition like that,” Roberts said.

The competition in the final was tough with Troy Pyper and Nathan Stratford, both of Invercargill, also on the board.

“There were some big-name players there – some of them are still pretty much my idols who I look up to, so it was good to get a win against all them.

“To have them shearing beside me was pretty cool for a start but to win against them was unreal.”

Stratford and Pyper had always been willing to share their knowledge with him, Roberts said.

“They’ve always helped me out through all the grades.”

Pyper finished his 20 sheep about 22 seconds ahead of Roberts but had more penalty points and ended up third.

“Quality ended up putting him back.”

When not competing, Roberts shared his time working for two family shearing companies run by his grandfather Cliff Waihape and his uncle Cody Waihape, he said.

He treated every day’s shearing like practice for a competition.

“I try and set the mark pretty high for the rest of the boys.”

The friendly rivalry that existed among the shearers meant there were occasions in a day’s work when, without a word, someone would increase the pace of the shearing to try to beat the rest.

That was also good preparation for competition days.

“When you’ve been doing it for a few years you know when it’s go time, when everyone’s ripping into it.

“No-one likes to lose.”

He had been spending time in the gym since the start of the year to increase his fitness.

Even in this short time, he had observed the gym work was helping, he said.

He was aiming to compete at the Golden Shears in Marton in March.

Shearing Sports New Zealand media officer Doug Laing said Roberts was going well given the time he had been competing in the open grade.

Even shearers who did well in the lower grades struggled at first in the open class.

“It’s a whole new education once you start in the open.

“Even the very, very best still take time to start winning at the open level.

“If they’ve got the guts they know it’s going to be four or five years before they even start becoming regular finalists at open level.

“Most of those guys consider they don’t really reach their peak as an open-class shearer until the age of about 38 to 42.”