The Six Nations International Bowls series gets underway today with six countries in Christchurch for the event.
New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Wales, South Africa and Scotland are all using this event as a trial for selection in their respective countries with five men and five women teams to represent their countries in the World Championships in Christchurch in late November.
For the New Zealand squad of six men and seven women at this event it is really their last chance to impress the selectors in an international event.
The New Zealand women's team last week had a convincing victory over Australia at Burnside in the annual trans-Tasman test series and have seen the senior players in the squad lead the way.
It is likely the names of Jo Edwards, Val Smith and 24-year-old Mandy Boyd are already locked in after an excellent performance against Australia. Twenty six-year-old Kirsten Griffin of Nelson must also be close to joining them leaving Selina Goddard, Angela Boyd and Katelin Inch fighting it out for the one remaining spot. Goddard perhaps has the edge at this point.
The selectors will be wanting to confirm in their minds if they have the right five players and the right combinations to stand on the victory dais at the World Championships and the Six Nations series will give the players the ideal stage to perform on.
In comparison the men's team, after a below par performance in the trans-Tasman series, no doubt have the selectors working overtime on who they pick.
Most likely only two players are certainties with Shannon Mcllroy and Mike Kernaghan all but guaranteed a place, although Kernaghan is not available for this series. He is widely acknowledged as the best draw player in the country and has the required steely attitude to perform at the highest level
Therefore the Six Nations is a must perform for the remaining players to make the team, which will be selected within the next month. Top performances will be required by Paul Girdler, Ali Forsyth, Mike Nagy, Andrew Kelly and Blake Signal to put their hands up for the three remaining positions.
The men's test series against Australia certainly highlighted that the New Zealand squad has a lot of ground to make up to be strong medal contenders at the World Bowls Championships, therefore this event over the next week will play a significant role for the selectors in finalising a team that will deliver good results.