Coaches of the men and women's Wanganui bowls teams are confident of a top showing at the revamped Intercentre National Championships in Auckland this weekend.
The annual competition used to be fought out by regional winners from throughout the country, but this year, each centre will be involved at the same event. Teams from the Far North to the deep south are represented.
Wanganui men's coach Lyndsay Wheeler said his team had drawn a strong section, including last year's winners Counties/Manukau and Nelson, which boasts New Zealand player Shannon McIllroy, who was ranked World No 4 last year.
"We've got a tough draw that also includes Southland and Wairarapa, but with last year's winners and the strong Nelson team featuring Shannon McIllroy will make it even harder," Wheeler said.
"While not all our players were available for this tournament, I'm happy with the line-up we've got. They are formidable players in their own right. Alan Dickson is in good form and finished in the top eight at the nationals, while Bruce Winterburn is fresh from skipping the winning four at the Aotearoa Maori Bowls Championship in Rotorua a few weeks back."
Meanwhile, Wanganui women's coach Chris Waterson was more than happy with his "quality squad".
"We will will need to be on our game to feature in a quality section," Waterson said yesterday.
"We have drawn West Coast, Gisborne/East Coast, Northland and the Far North, but I'll be disappointed if we don't make the quarter-finals with the team we have. We have been working hard on mental toughness and form on the greens and all of these women can play. It's just a matter of things going our way. Karen Coombe is our leading player and she has been training down at Burnside in Christchurch and is in very good form. We just need to peak at the right time and hopefully that's in post-section play on Sunday," Waterson said.
Qualifying rounds begin tomorrow and continue through to Saturday, while Sunday has been reserved for post-section play. The teams will compete in singles, pairs and fours, with the men playing at Hillsboro Bowling Club and Howick, while the women will roll up at Howick and Birkenhead.
Peter Head is the non-travelling men's reserve, while Rona O'Shea is the women's back-up.