NZ selection reward for Gore bowler

Sheldon Bagrie-Howley has been ‘‘secretly hoping’’ and now his wishes have come true.

The 27-year-old Gore Bowling Club member was named on January 21 in a 14-strong Blackjacks squad for the Multi-Nations Tournament on the Gold Coast in March.

New Zealand will play teams from South Africa, Ireland, Malaysia, Norfolk Island, Hong Kong and Australia.

While there were some strong competition for places in the team, he thought winning the New Zealand men’s singles championship earlier this month would count in his favour, Bagrie-Howley said.

‘‘I knew I had a pretty good case after winning the singles.’’

It had been a while coming as he was a member of the Blackjacks development squad since 2014 and had even been part of the Blackjacks squad, Bagrie-Howley said.

‘‘This is the first time I’ve made the actual team.

‘‘It’s been quite a few years I’ve been trying to crack it.’’

He was grateful for the support he had received especially from the Mataura Licensing Trust, he said.

Dunedin-based head coach Mike Kernaghan said national selectors had indicated selection was still wide open for World Bowls, also to be hosted by the Gold Coast in August.

‘‘There’s a lot of bowls to be played between now and then, and with the Multi-Nations, this is one of those rare opportunities for us to widen our selection net and see what others can do at a higher level,’’ Kernaghan said.

‘‘We want to take this opportunity to give those that have been knocking at the door a chance to show us they have what it takes to step up to that next level, and that’s a really exciting prospect.’’

The event would be played on a rotational basis, meaning no set combinations would be preselected for the tournament, he said.