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Bowls selectors ‘keep the faith’

Thursday 4 May 2023 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Boxing, Sports

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Bowls selectors ‘keep the faith’
The two pairs – the men's combination of Aidan Zittersteijn and Taiki Paniani, and their women's counterparts Emily and Tiare Jim, are poised to make statements at the World Bowls Championships in Australia in August and September. Bowls Cook Islands/23050307/23050308

‘Don’t change a winning team,’ is a cry often heard in the sporting world, and the Cook Islands Bowls selectors are living up those words after retaining the team that enjoyed significant success in the recent Oceania Challenge tournament, for the upcoming World Bowls Championships.

The team named for the World Bowls Championships in Australia in August includes nine of the 10 players “who did so well” in Auckland, Cook Islands Bowls said in a statement. The sole player not named is Jason Lindsay, who was unavailable due to work commitments.

The Cook Islands ended the Oceania Challenge as the most successful of the Island nations, with one silver and three bronze medals, “so clearly the chosen players all earned their selection in the heat of international competition”.

The three debutants, an Auckland-based trio of Philly Akaruru, Rima Strickland and Teora Turua, all performed well in their first international outings and well before the end of competition were showing signs of settling into combinations with teammates who had been more or less strangers before the event began. Those who had represented their country previously solidified their claims with steady and, occasionally, brilliant bowls, Bowls Cook Islands added.

The only new face in the squad is a familiar one to Cook Islands bowls fans, as Adoni Wichman Rairoa has already achieved a number of distinctions in the game. He represented Cook Islands in the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the 2019 South Pacific Games, where he won bronze in the singles. He will slot into the triple and four as a direct replacement for Lindsay.

Bowls Cook Islands said: “The fine performances at Blockhouse Bay should not excite false hopes however, since this is a world tournament rather than an Oceania one and, with a few exceptions, the top players from across all nations will be present. “

“Any medal here will be extremely hard-earned – the level is at least similar to Commonwealth Games – but to suggest the Cooks are without chances is wrong.”

Going into the Oceania Challenge, hopes were high for both the men’s and women’s pairs, and neither team disappointed.

“Both teams are known combinations, well performed to date and neither will be overawed by any possible opponents here.”

Both triples also show signs of becoming formidable outfits, especially as the new players have got to know their teammates and slotted back into roles which may have become unfamiliar in recent seasons, the statement said.

While competition will be tough in Australia, both teams have the ability to go toe-to-toe with the best.

“Singles is harder to call; bowlers know that a player who gets hot can run through a field in quick time, and there will be plenty capable of achieving that. “The fours are also going to be challenged, simply because of the quality that can be stacked up by any one of a dozen nations (including the Cooks) in what promises to be even fields.”

The tournament will be headquartered at the Broadbeach Bowling Club, on the Gold Coast, and will run from August 29 to September 10. The other venues will be Helensvale and Musgrave.

Bowls Cook Islands said: “It promises to be a fascinating tournament, and one where the Cook Islands players can push to be recognised beyond their own shores. The talent exists in this squad for more than one player to achieve that status by mid-September.”

Management will be in the capable hands of David Akaruru, who was in charge of the team at Blockhouse Bay, and Sandra Zittersteijn, who was ever-present at that tournament and pitched in with a will whenever needed.

A recent New Zealand representative, Jamie Hill, has been named as coach for the first time.

Cook Islands

Men (all teams named from skip to lead): Singles: Royden Aperau; Pair: Taiki Paniani and Aidan Zittersteijn; Triple: Teora Turua, Adoni Wichman Rairoa and Royden Aperau; Four: Teora Turua, Taiki Paniani, Adoni Wichman Rairoa and Aidan Zittersteijn. Women: Singles: Tai Jim; Pair: Tiare Jim, Emily Jim; Triple: Tai Jim, Rima Strickland and Philly Akaruru; Four: Tiare Jim, Rima Strickland, Philly Akaruru and Emily Jim. Manager men: David Akaruru; Manager, women: Sandra Zittersteijn and Coach: Jamie Hill.