The Prime Minister of New Zealand faces his first challenge of election year tomorrow (Saturday) in his home province.
After being publicly challenged late last year by the world's most-decorated shearer, Sir David Fagan, Bill English has duly accepted and will shear on-stage at the 2017 World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships at ILT Stadium Southland.
Sir David said the Prime Minister's attendance was great news for the event.
"We're rapt. He's always been supportive of agriculture and our industry and sport. We're looking forward to having him and we are pretty excited to be able to host him in this venue at ILT Stadium Southland. To have the PM support the event, let alone have him take up the challenge of shearing a sheep is pretty impressive. He will be the first World leader to shear a sheep and having seen him shear before he's going to do very well," he said.
Negotiations are continuing on the number of sheep Sir David will be asked to shear against the Prime Minister's single sheep.
The Prime Minister's Office's initial offer of a 10 to 1 ratio has been denied by the World Championships.
The event is scheduled in the World Championship qualifying session at 1:45pm Saturday. The full Championships are being live-streamed at www.worldshearingchamps.com.
Both Friday's and Saturday's night sessions have sold out with a crowd of 4000 attending the World Championship Finals on Saturday evening. Tickets for the Saturday day session, including the English vs Fagan shear-off, are still available from ILT Stadium Southland.