17 Jan 2019

Maverick lawn bowler returns to Blackjacks

4:23 pm on 17 January 2019

The maverick lawn bowler Gary Lawson is to play for New Zealand again - 10 years after his last appearance.

Gary Lawson

Gary Lawson Photo: Photosport

Lawson, 53, last played for New Zealand in 2009, when the four he skipped was accused of match fixing at the Asia Pacific Championships in Malaysia.

Lawson was subsequently fined $5000 and suspended from the game for six months.

After missing out on the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games squad last year Lawson announced he was retiring from the sport.

However, the double world champion has had a change of heart and has been named in an overhauled high performance squad, with an eye to next year's World Bowls Championships on the Gold Coast.

Bowls New Zealand head coach and selector Peter Belliss is looking forward to Lawson's return, after the men returned empty handed from the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

"He brings a wealth of experience and a mental toughness on the greens that perhaps hasn't quite been there over the last couple of years," Belliss said.

Lawson is one of 10 men in the high performance squad, with reigning world champions Shannon McIlroy and Ali Forsyth the only survivors from the Gold Coast games.

Paul Girdler has announced his international retirement, Mike Nagy has made himself unavailable for the first six months of the year and Blake Signal has missed out on selection.

"Blake has been a very good player for us, but on occasions hasn't quite played as well as he would have liked," Belliss said.

Signal has been named in the talent development squad "which means our coaches still work with him".

Like Lawson, Jamie Hill has been recalled after a decade-long absence, while Andrew Kelly, Mike Kernaghan and Chris Le Lievre are also back in the national set-up.

There is also an injection of new faces in the men's squad, with Seamus Curtin, Taylor Horn and Jordan King named for the first time.

Peter Belliss and fellow selectors Phil Skoglund (convener) and Marlene Castle will now focus on picking the Blackjacks squad for the Asia Pacific Championships in June.

It doubles as a qualifying event for next year's World Championships and will also be staged on the Gold Coast.

High performance squad:

Women - Tayla Bruce (Burnside), Jo Edwards (United & Pine Rivers), Kirsten Edwards (Stoke), Selina Goddard (Carlton Cornwall), Katelyn Inch (Oxford & Broadbeach), Wendy Jensen (Orewa), Lisa Prideaux (Merrylands), Sarah Scott (Te Rangi) and Val Smith (United & Merrylands)

Men - Seamus Curtin (Stokes Valley), Ali Forsyth (Nelson & Clayton), Jamie Hill (Eastbourne & Onehunga), Taylor Horn (Mangere), Andrew Kelly (Canterbury), Mike Kernaghan (North East Valley), Jordan King (Mangere), Gary Lawson (Eastbourne), Chris Le Lievre (Musgrave Hill) and Shannon McIlroy (Stoke)