Two of New Zealand's greatest lawn bowlers - Peter Belliss and Rowan Brassey - will be chasing titles at the national championships starting tomorrow.

Belliss, 62, is back at his home club in Wanganui after a long stint playing on the tough Australian circuit. Brassey, 56, lives in Sydney where he plays for the Cabramatta club.

Belliss was the first New Zealand lawn bowler to turn professional and is a three-time World Bowls gold medallist. He won the first of his six New Zealand championship titles in the singles in 1981 and his last in the fours in 2009.

Belliss has won three singles titles (1981, 1986 and 1992) and wants to add a fourth in the final at the Paritutu club in New Plymouth.


He will be playing in the pairs with Lance Tasker (Mt Maunganui), who he won the pairs with in 1995, and they will be joined in the fours by former Dunedin bowler Steve Beel and Mike Nagy (Birkenhead).

Brassey, who has two world titles, won his first New Zealand title in the fours in 1981 and won his seventh national title in the fours in 2003.

He will be chasing an elusive singles title this year. He should have won in Auckland in 2005 when he had a big lead over Dwayne Cameron (Homai) in the final but let it slip.

Brassey will be playing with Cabramatta clubmate Beau Prideaux in the pairs and they will be joined by the Hassall brothers - Rodger (Paritutu) and Brett (Avondale) - in the fours.

The only member of the New Zealand men's team not competing is Tony Grantham (Auckland), who has work commitments.

Ali Forsyth (Havelock) will be chasing his third singles title. He won two in a row in 2003 and 2004.

He will be playing with fellow World Bowls representative Matt Gallop (Blenheim) in the pairs. The Sydney-based duo will be joined by Gallop's father Lloyd Gallop (Blenheim) and Graham Hood (Havelock) in the fours. The team won in Dunedin two years ago.

Shannon McIlroy (Stoke), who won a bronze medal in the singles at World Bowls, is chasing his first national singles title. He is teamed with Lance Pascoe (Wilton) in the pairs, and with fellow World Bowls player Richard Girvan (Onehunga) and Kevin Robinson (Tokoroa) in the fours.

Mandy Boyd (Johnsonville), a silver medallist at World Bowls, is the only member of the national women's team competing.

She was runner-up in the singles to Jo Edwards in Dunedin two years ago and in the pairs with older sister Angela last year.

The sisters were members of Sue Burnand's composite team that won the fours in Dunedin two years ago.

Last year's singles champions, Peter Hodson (Stoke) and Sandra Keith (Dunsandel), are back. Former world champion rower Tony Popplewell (Mairangi Bay) is playing in the singles and pairs.

National championships
Main venue: Paritutu Club, New Plymouth.
Dates: December 28-January 9.