Invercargill shearer Nathan Stratford is heading the PGG Wrightson Vetmed National Shearing Circuit leaderboard with the maximum points from the first two rounds.
Stratford's 24 points came from the open heats at the New Zealand Merino Shears in Alexandra on October 2 and the Waimate Shears last Saturday.
He's already secured enough points for a place in the five-round series' semi-finals on March 5. The six-man final will take place a few hours later.
Stratford is no stranger to leading the series through the opening rounds and has competed in 17 finals since his debut in 2000.
Despite this, he has only won the title once - in 2014.
Stratford was runner-up twice, (in 2019 and 2020), and came third four times (in 2001, 2012, 2015 and 2017).
A master performer at the Merino Shears, where he has won five times, Stratford also has 10 wins on crossbred longwool at the Waimate Shears.
The Circuit continues with the Corriedale round at the Canterbury Shears in Christchurch on November 12, the lamb shear at the Rangitikei Shearing Sports in Marton on February 5 and the second shear of the Pahiatua Shears on February 27.
All five varieties will feature in what will be the 50th final of the series, which began as the McSkimming Memorial Triple Crown in 1972-1973.
Stratford is one of three former winners in the current Circuit.
The other two are fellow Invercargill shearer Leon Samuels in third place, and Paerata Abraham, of Masterton, who is in 10th place.
For South Island shearers, the series final has been the event they've been most successful at, at the Golden Shears, with 23 wins since Colin Gibson, of Oamaru, won in 1977.
Gibson's win was the first of five consecutive southern triumphs.
The next year South Canterbury shearers Adrian Cox won, followed by Kevin Walsh in 1979.
The great Brian "Snow" Quinn, of Alexandra, won in 1980, and Cox took it out a second time in 1981.
Steve Dodds, of Riversdale, won in 1985, Edsel Forde, of Orepuki won three times consecutively, Central Otago shearer Dion Morrell won in 1997, while Forde's brother, Darin, won four times in 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2004.
Rakaia shearer Tony Coster won five times - during his 2009-2011 reign and again in 2015 and 2016 - while Marlborough shearer Angus Moore won in 2012 and 2020.
However, the most wins belong to Te Kuiti shearer Sir David Fagan who had nine between 1986 and 2008.
Once again, the winner of the 2022 PGG Wrightson Vetmed National Shearing Circuit will win a year's lease of a four-wheel-drive Hyundai Santa Fe.
Placings and points in the 2021-2022 PGG Wrightson Vetmed National Shearing Circuit after two rounds:
1 - Nathan Stratford (Invercargill), 24pts; 2 - Ethan Pankhurst (Masterton), 20pts; 3 - Leon Samuels (Invercargill), 16pts; 4 - David Gordon (Masterton), 13pts; 5 - Troy Pyper (Cheviot), 12pts; 6 equal - Casey Bailey (Riverton), Alex Smith (Rakaia), 10pts; 8 equal - Brett Roberts (Mataura), Hugh De Lacy (Parnassus), 9pts; 10 - Paerata Abraham (Masterton), 8pts; 11 - Ringakaha Paewai (Gore), 7pts; 12 equal - Lionel Taumata (Gore), Jack Fagan (Te Kuiti), 6pts; 14 - Jimmy Samuels (Marton), 5pts; 15 equal - Aaron Haynes (Palmerston North), Matene Mason (Masterton), 4pts; 17 - Hemi Braddick (Eketahuna), 3pts; 18 equal - Duncan Higgins (Blenheim), Paul Hodges (Geraldine), Willy McSkimming (Oamaru), James Ruki (Te Kuiti), Phil Wedd (Silverdale), 2pts; 23 - Beau Guelfi (Gisborne), 1pt.