Games provide platform

By Iain Hyndman

Almost by chance the New Zealand Masters Games in Wanganui has become a feeder event for the national representative ranks.

Five years ago a group of Wanganui women chose woodchopping as their preferred event at the Games and have since represented their country - beating the Australians in the process.

Former top class netballer and basketballer Julie Rowan and her mate Rochelle Molan along with Jacky Brown have been regulars on the Masters podium in Wanganui every two years since first registering in 2009.

Rowan and Molan, in fact, have won gold in the Jill and Jill woodchopping events at every games they have entered, including this year.

And last year they were members of the New Zealand team to contest the annual trans-Tasman test series at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

Last year the Kiwis beat their Aussie neighbours 2-1 in the series. The series is run as a relay featuring underhand cutting, Jill and Jill events and single sawing.

During last year's series Rowan and Molan combined to finish second in the Jill and Jill, but later won gold in an Adelaide event.

Rowan, Molan, Brown and Alma Wallace from Otaki are all using the NZ Masters as a training run to tackle the Australians at the Royal Easter Show in six weeks' time.

Other members of the New Zealand squad, who were not in Wanganui this week, are Marie Needham from Wanganui, Sheree Taylor from Te Aroha, Karen Corbin from Riverton and Darcell Apelu from Auckland.

"We only started woodchopping so we could enter the games here in Wanganui in 2009 and now we're representing New Zealand in the national squad," Rowan said yesterday.

"Rochelle and I won gold this morning in the Jill and Jill, so that's our third gold in three games - not bad for relative novices.

"There are eight in the New Zealand squad for this year's test series and the seven-man team to compete will be chosen on form just before the Royal Easter Show, so this should help our chances."

In her younger years Rowan was a rep Wanganui netballer and attended the National Institute of Basketball before playing in the national league.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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