Three world woolhandling champions remain in strong contention to battle for the two places representing New Zealand at this year's championships in France.

Reigning champion Joel Henare leads the southern pool of a selection series which culminates with a final at the Golden Shears in Masterton on March 2 and naming of two woolhandlers in the six-strong Shearing Sports New Zealand team for the World Championships in Le Dorat, France, on July 1-7.

The 2010 champion team of Keryn Herbert, of Te Kuiti, and 2008 individual and teams champion Sheree Alabaster, of Taihape, are currently first and second in the North Island series.

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Running second in the South Island pool is new Master Woolhandler Pagan Karauria, who is yet to represent New Zealand in a World Championships, while Gisborne woolhandler Maryanne Baty, who won the teams title with Henare in Invercargill two years ago, is 7th on the North Island points table.

Two rounds remain in the South Island, at Balclutha on February 8-9 and at Gore the following week.

Meanwhile, a busy time is ahead in the North Island, with competitions at Taihape on Saturday, Rotorua on Sunday, Dannevirke on February 1, Marton on February 2, Taumarunui on February 22, Apiti on February 23, and the Pre-Shears Wairarapa Woolhandling Championships on February 27.

The top four in each island will qualify for a semi-final which will be followed by a final, on the last day of the Golden Shears.

The winner and runner-up will join blade shearers Tony Dobbs, of Fairlie, and Allan Oldfield, of Geraldine, and two machine shearers qualifying from the Golden Shears and New Zealand Championships open finals in Masterton and Te Kuiti respectively in March.

The shearing sports season continues tomorrow with shearing and woolhandling at the Taihape A and P Show.

On Sunday, the Rotorua A and P Show's Agrodome Shears is at Ngongotaha, and shearing will take place at the Tapawera Sports Shears at the Tapawra Recreation Reserve, west of State Highway 6 settlement Wakefield and southwest of Nelson.

The top 10 in the North and South Island World Championships woolhandling selection series are:
North Island:


Keryn Herbert (Te Kuiti) 57pts, 1; Sheree Alabaster (Taihape) 50pts, 2; Eramiha Neho (Dannevirke) 48pts, 3; Trish Moke Ludlow (Waipawa) 33pts, 4; Carmen Smith (Pongaroa) 31pts, 5; Cushla Abraham (Masterton) 30pts, 6; Maryanne Baty (Gisborne) 24pts, 7; Brittany Tibble (Gisborne) 19pts, 8; Monica Potae (Kennedy Bay/Milton) 17pts, 9; Ngaio Hanson (Eketahuna) 16pts, 10.

South Island:

Joel Henare (Gisborne) 58pts, 1; Pagan Karauria (Alexandra) 54pts, 2; Chelsea Collier (Gore) 46pts, 3; Kelly Macdonald (Wanaka/Christchurch) and Tia Potae (Milton) 35pts, 4 equal; Candy Hiri (Mataura) and Cheri Peterson (Milton) 32pts, 6 equal; Ebony Collins (Gore) 27pts, 8; Larnie Morrell (Alexandra) 19pts, 9; Foonie Waihape (Gisborne) 12pts, 10.