Some of the world's best will converge in Balclutha this weekend for the Otago Shearing and Woolhandling Championships.

Shearing Sports New Zealand South Island committee chairman Michael Hogan anticipated about 220 shearing and woolhandling competitors would travel to Balclutha for the championship events to be held on Friday and Saturday.

New Zealand team shearing representatives Nathan Stratford, of Invercargill, and Johnny Kirkpatrick, of Napier, will make an appearance, after qualifying last year for the world championships to be held in Invercargill next weekend.

Last year's reigning champion Rowland Smith, of Hastings, will also attend the event.


Mr Hogan said the depth of high quality shearers and woolhandlers in the country made it a challenge for competitors to make the New Zealand team.

This weekend's championship event would be ''significantly bigger'' than it had been in previous years as it was to be held the weekend before the world championships.

It was an ideal opportunity for competitors to practise on New Zealand sheep and wool, which were not often seen on the world stage.

''With it being so close to the world event next week, the majority of international competitors will be using the Otago shears as a lead-up to the world event.''

At least a third of competitors this weekend would be from overseas, Mr Hogan said.

World Championship organising committee chairman Tom Wilson said competitors would be coming from a record number of 32 countries for the world championships.

''It's unheard of to get this many attending a World Champs on this side of the world.''

Notable woolhandlers competing in Balclutha will be Joel Henare and Mary-Anne Baty.


They will join Stratford for a final rehearsal before they represent New Zealand in the world championships.

The Otago Championships event will be held at the Balclutha War Memorial Hall.