World champion shearer Rowland Smith is the hot favourite to win this week's Golden Shears in Masterton.
Shearing officials and the bookies say the 29-year-old from Hawke's Bay is almost certain to win the tournament and that he's every bit as good as the shearing legend David Fagan was in his prime.
Shearing Sports New Zealand media officer Doug Laing said Mr Smith was virtually unstoppable at the moment.
The competition will begin on Thursday and finish Saturday.
"On Sunday at Pahiatua he beat the next best off the board by almost seven points, that's a wide margin, almost unprecedented at this sort of level so he's clearly got everything going," Mr Laing said.
"He's the current world champion, he won the world championship two years ago and he's out to try to represent New Zealand at the world championships again next year.
"He's won the Golden Shears Open twice, he's near enough to unbeatable at the moment in the form he's in and for the other guys to beat him it's going to be for something that goes wrong for Rowland on the day rather than how good the other guys are."