The 18th World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships are being held at Le Dorat, France, next week.

Teams from around the world, including New Zealand, will compete. The competitions take place on July 4-7.

The Allflex New Zealand Shearing and Woolhandling Team will be there. Check out their profiles below.

Machine shearers

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Cam Ferguson. Photo / Supplied
Cam Ferguson. Photo / Supplied

Cam Ferguson – Machine shearer, of Waipawa, Central Hawke's Bay

A period of 10 months from March 2010 to January 2011 set the benchmark for Central Hawke's Bay shearer Cam Ferguson.

In March 2010 he shore his first Golden Shears open final in Masterton and won.

Four months later he beat shearing legend and New Zealand teammate David Fagan to win the World Championships final in Wales. In January 2011 Ferguson set a world record of 742 strongwool lambs in eight hours.

Ferguson has had more than 40 open-class wins, but had a season off before returning to competition last October. He hasn't won since March 2017.

There have been some gutsy efforts – he was runner-up in the 2012 world final after shearing much of the season with severe back strain which all but stopped him getting into the team.

This year he won his place as runner-up to the already qualified Rowland Smith in the New Zealand Championship in Te Kuiti, despite having to stop to haul one of his sheep back up onto the board after it tried to escape the stage into the auditorium during the final.

In April he spent three nights in hospital after a crash, but he has been shearing in the UK since the second week of June.

Rowland Smith. Photo / Supplied
Rowland Smith. Photo / Supplied

Rowland Smith – Machine shearer, of Maraekakaho, Hawke's Bay

The two-metres-tall Rowland Smith, who grew up around tiny Ruawai in Northland, has been almost unbeatable since he won the Golden Shears open title for the first time in 2013.

He has won 99 of his 108 finals in New Zealand in that time, while overseas his wins include the 2014 World Championship final in Ireland.

One miss was when he came third in the 2017 team selection final, missing the chance to defend his title in Invercargill (but he did win the All Nations open championship).

His career total of 150 open wins includes six Golden Shears opens and six New Zealand Championships opens, both each now four times in a row.

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Former holder of a two-stand ewe-shearing record with brother Doug, Rowland Smith shore the perfect solo strongwool record of 644 ewes in eight hours in July 2017.

He achieved this with 161 in each of the four two-hour runs on the same farm in Cornwall, England, that brother Matt Smith shore the nine hours record a year earlier.

Rowland Smith won his place in this year's team by winning the 2019 Golden Shears open final in Masterton in March.

Woolhandlers

Sheree Alabaster. Photo / Supplied
Sheree Alabaster. Photo / Supplied

Sheree Alabaster – Woolhandler, of Taihape, Central North Island

A career schoolteacher, Sheree Alabaster is one of New Zealand's most successful woolhandlers.

Alabaster has three world titles: Individual and Teams Champion in Norway in 2008 and Teams Champion again in Wales in 2010.

She has proven to be a specialist in second-shear competition, winning the New Zealand Championships open final in Te Kuiti nine times since 2004.

She has won 67 open finals, despite being in the shadow of 2012 and 2017 World Champion Joel Henare, who has had more than 110 wins.

Alabaster, whose father shore at the first Golden Shears in 1961, and later in nine Golden Shears open finals without winning the title, has also not yet won a Golden Shears open.

However, she was runner-up three times consecutively in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Alabaster regained her World Championships place by finishing runner-up in this year's NZ team selection final, at the Golden Shears.

Pagan Karauria. Photo / Supplied
Pagan Karauria. Photo / Supplied

Pagan Karauria – Woolhandler, of Alexandra, Central Otago

Winner of the New Zealand team selection series final at the Golden Shears in March, after just missing selection for the 2017 championships, Pagan Karauria comes from good wool harvesting stock.

Her mother, Tina Rimene, was twice a World Teams Champion and three times the Golden Shears Champion, while father Dion Morrell was a champion and record-breaking shearer.

All three have achieved Master status in New Zealand.

Pagan, who suffered serious back injuries in a crash in which two workmates died in 2008, has bounced back to successfully mix both parts of the sport, with 21 open woolhandling wins, and competition as a senior-class shearer.

In April she won a new women's shearing event at the New Zealand Championships in Te Kuiti.

Having worked extensively also in Australia, she has also been helping run her father's shearing business in Central Otago.

She was one of five female shearers featured in 2018 New Zealand documentary She Shears, now being shown internationally.

Blade shearers

Tony Dobbs. Photo / Supplied
Tony Dobbs. Photo / Supplied

Tony Dobbs - Blade shearer, of Fairlie, South Canterbury

A South Island farmer, Tony Dobbs is thought to have won more competitions than any other blade shearer worldwide.

He has at least 90 wins to his name, including a 1988 World Championships event at the Golden Shears in Masterton, and 17 wins in New Zealand's premier blade shearing event, the Golden Blades at the historic Canterbury A and P Show.

He had 18 years off after finishing second at the 1996 World Championships in Masterton, returning to place third at Gorey in 2014, and runner-up in Invercargill two years ago.

His wins include an All-Nations event at the Royal Ulster Show in Belfast in 2014, and later in the year another All-Nations event at Errowanbang, NSW, where he beat World Champions Mayenzeke Shweni and Zweliwile Hans.

He won four finals in New Zealand in the 2018-2019 season, including the Golden Blades, the last event in a series he won to secure his place at Le Dorat.

Allan Oldfield. Photo / Supplied
Allan Oldfield. Photo / Supplied

Allan Oldfield – Blade shearer, of Geraldine, South Canterbury

Son of 2017 championships blades final third place getter Phil Oldfield, and a former New Zealand Under 21 woodchopping representative, Allan Oldfield has had more success in the UK and Ireland than in his home country.

Without a win to his name when he headed to the Northern Hemisphere for the first time in 2016, within three weeks he scored a possibly unprecedented sequence of wins in all three disciplines - blade shearing, machine shearing and woolhandling.

Open blades wins at the Balmoral Show in Belfast and the Leinster Championships in Ireland were followed over the next two years by the completion of a rare sequence of open blades titles, at the Royal Ulster, Royal Bath and West, Royal Highland and Royal Welsh shows.

In the New Zealand blades shearing season, exclusively in the South Island, he has beaten prolific-winning teammate Tony Dobbs three times in the last two years.

Team manager

Ken Payne. Photo / Supplied
Ken Payne. Photo / Supplied

Ken Payne, of Balclutha, South Otago

Ken Payne, who is in his seventh year as a member of the Clutha District Council, based in Balclutha, has worked most of his life in the wool industry.

His expansive career includes not only 24 years as a shearer, but also buying and selling wool for six years, and training people to shear during his 10 years as instructor at an agricultural college near Balclutha.

He's also been a shearing competition judge and referee for 20 years, including the 2012 and 2017 World Championships.

After managing two New Zealand teams to competitions in Australia, Payne was selected as manager of the Allflex New Zealand Shearing and Woolhandling Team for the 2019 World championships in France.