Gore bowler impresses national judges

Top form. . . Gore Bowling Club member Sheldon Bagrie-Howley seen here preparing for his next shot in a national fours championship game earlier this year has been named the 2022-23 Bowls New Zealand male player of the year. PHOTO: BOWLS NEW ZEALAND

Gore Bowling Club member Sheldon Bagrie-Howley has received a top national award.

At Bowls New Zealand’s online annual meeting on Saturday it was announced Bagrie-Howley has won the male player of the year award.

Bagrie-Howley said he had an inkling he was in the running for the title after a successful season.

‘‘It’s pretty cool to get it confirmed.’’

He had made the finals of four national competitions this year and ‘‘won two, lost two’’.

He also won the Southland centre triples, the Southland interclub sevens, the Southland centre singles, and the Southland champion of champion pairs, adding up to a tally of 21 centre career titles.

‘‘I’m catching up to being one of the people with the most.

‘‘I only have to get another six to equal it.’’

Winning the national single’s title was the highlight of the year, he said.

He was very grateful for the support of the Mataura Licensing Trust and the people who supported him.

In announcing Bagrie-Howley’s win on its website, Bowls New Zealand said despite many worthy candidates for the title, the Gore bowler had impressed the judges the most.

In January, when Bagrie-Howley won the national single’s title, he was the first player not only from the Gore Bowling Club but also from Southland to win the 108-year-old tournament.

‘‘None of his opponents even reached double figures in the first-to-21 games, and he went through six post-section games to finally win the final 21-15 against former world champion Shannon McIlroy.’’

Recently he has played in the Blackjacks triples and fours teams that competed in the 2023 World Bowls Championship in Australia. The fours team finished with the bronze medal.

He also made it through to the world champion of champions singles quarterfinals.

‘‘It’s been a great year for Sheldon, noticeably on the green, but even much less noticeably off the green where he supports, inspires, motivates and coaxes the bowls community around him.

‘‘He has become a talisman for Gore. And for Southland. And now New Zealand.’’