Dave Gatchell would race snails if it meant representing New Zealand.

The 65-year-old has again gained selection to the New Zealand petanque team, this time to take on Australia in Christchurch next month.

Gatchell, who had only been playing petanque for six years, said he could never have imagined he would be wearing a silver fern when he was first introduced to the sport.

"It doesn't matter if it's tiddlywinks or snail racing - you're representing you're country," he said.

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"The grandkids say to me 'you go for it Grandad'."

New Zealand petanque player Dave Gatchell practises on the piste.
New Zealand petanque player Dave Gatchell practises on the piste.

He had never heard of petanque before he was first introduced to the game at a social gathering that involved some backyard activities like badminton and bowls.

He was drawn to the little silver balls.

"I gave it a shot and it was like a fish hook. It grabs you and you can't let go. But you never think it's going to lead anywhere," he said.

Gatchell went to a few tournaments. Next thing he was making representative teams, then the national team.

Now he's built a piste at home so he can get more practice in before the Australian series in Christchurch next month.

"It's New Zealand versus Australia. You want to beat each other," he said.

"It's like everything. It's about practice, and more practice, and when you've finished, you practice some more."

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Gatchell's selection continues an amazing season for the local petanque scene. Petanque in Horowhenua was riding the crest of a wave with a clean sweep of centre titles and New Zealand representative recently.

It was a feat no other club had achieved before.

Ann Hogg, Dave Gatchell and Shirley McDonald at the Levin pistes.
Ann Hogg, Dave Gatchell and Shirley McDonald at the Levin pistes.

Gatchell was joined in the team by Ann Hogg and Allan Hall to win all three Champion of Champions Trophies in Singles, Doubles and Triples recently against the best in the lower North Island.

The club had some fine players represent New Zealand in the past too, including Hogg, Louis Gill and Shirley McDonald.

Meanwhile, Horowhenua petanque club is always keen to welcome new members. Club days were Saturday Monday, and Thursday, beginning at 12.45pm.