Bowls: Lawson quits after missing NZ selection

By Terry Maddaford

Gary Lawson. Photo / Natalie Slade
Gary Lawson. Photo / Natalie Slade

Gary Lawson has quit bowls and says he will not be seen again on New Zealand greens until there is a change of direction at Bowls New Zealand.

In an interview published in the latest edition of NZ Lawn Bowls Magazine, Lawson tells of his frustration with the sport's hierarchy and his decision to leave his bowls in his bag.

New Zealand's most successful lawn bowler - his record of 10 national titles, three world titles and numerous centre and club titles attest to that - has long been at loggerheads with the national body and in particular chief executive Kerry Clark.

In his magazine interview, Lawson said: "I will not play in New Zealand again until Kerry Clark retires or resigns."

Often seen as the "bad boy" of the sport he has dominated for so long, Lawson said he was upset that he had been overlooked in the naming of the national squad, from which the New Zealand team to play World Bowls in Adelaide later this year would be named.

Lawson said he has resigned from his club in Christchurch and would not be playing at the national championships in Taranaki next summer, preferring to spend time with his daughter.

His stand-offs with the national body, Clark and the selectors have been well-documented but Lawson said he was given an indication he would be considered for selection and with it the chance to defend the titles he won at World Bowls four years ago, when he was named player of the tournament following his triumphs in pairs and fours.

When challenged in the past on the stance with Lawson, Clark has always insisted he plays no part in selection.

Lawson says the selectors are afraid to step out of line by selecting him and points to his non-invitation to play in the North East Valley singles - a tournament played under the watchful eye of Dunedin bowls stalwart Terry Scott, who is also a national selector.

Lawson said he felt so strongly about his treatment that he did not want to pay an affiliation fee which would end up in the hands of the national body.

"I might go and play in Australia or elsewhere if the opportunity arose," said Lawson.

"At this stage I have no intention of playing here in the foreseeable future."

As a parting shot, Lawson challenged the Bowls NZ selectors to put the team they select for World Bowls up against "my team" - Rowan Brassey, Andrew Todd, Russell Meyer, Peter Belliss and Lawson.

That will never happen but it makes for a good talking point as it has been suggested that Brassey and Belliss will be reunited at the Taranaki nationals.

* The New Zealand team to attend the world championships in November is: Val Smith (United, Nelson), Jo Edwards (United, Nelson), Jan Khan (Beckenham, Canterbury), Shannon McIlroy (Stoke, Nelson), Richard Girvan (Onehunga, Auckland and Nelsen Bay, NSW), Tony Grantham (Onehunga, Auckland), Matt Gallop (Cabramatta, Sydney) and Ali Forsyth (Havelock, Marlborough and Taren Point, Sydney), Lisa White (Victoria, Wellington) and Mandy Boyd (Johnsonville, Wellington).

- NZ Herald

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