Siti Zalina Ahmad of Malaysia during the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.
Australia’s Lawn Bowlers will face a stiff challenge in their warm-up for the Commonwealth Games when they contest the Tri Nations Cup from 31 January to 2 February.
The Cup will pit Australia against Commonwealth rivals New Zealand and Malaysia, and will give the teams a test run at the State Lawn Bowls Centre, the venue for the Games competition.
The clash between Australia and New Zealand will also see the countries compete for the coveted annual Trans Tasman Trophy, which Australia has won three times in a row.
The Cup will comprise three Tests between each country with three games played in each Test - singles, pairs and triples encounters.
National coach Cameron Curtis says with some players pulling on the green and gold for the first time, the Cup will be a perfect opportunity to test their team against some of their biggest Commonwealth rivals.
“This event is a great opportunity for Australia to gain further knowledge of the playing styles and tactics of these two countries as both will be big Games medal threats,” Mr Curtis said.
“A win in the Tri Nations Cup would give us a huge psychological edge over New Zealand and Malaysia going into the Games.”
The men’s side comprises Shane Globits filling-in in the singles, with Nathan Rice and Barrie Lester shooting for doubles victory. Bill Cornehls, Wayne Turley and Mark Casey will challenge for the men’s triples.
New Zealand is throwing up some steep competition, with world championship bronze medallist Russell Meyer in the singles, while the Kiwi pairs team of under-25 world indoor singles champion Jamie Hill and 2000 world triples champion Rowan Brassey is formidable.
Reigning Asia Pacific triples champions Justin Goodwin, Richard Girvan and Gary Lawson will be looking to continue their success in the triples.
Malaysia’s Mohd Affendy Tan will challenge in the singles, while reigning Asia Pacific pairs champions Fairul Izwan Abd Muin and Sufuan Said are tough contenders in the doubles. Megat M. Zamin, Syed Mohd Syed Akil and Mohd Azwan Shuhaimi will contest the triples.
In the women’s event, Sydney-based Maria Rigby will play singles for Australia, reigning Asia Pacific champions Lynsey Armitage and Karen Murphy will combine in the pairs and Queensland’s Noi Tucker and Ceri Ann Davies will make their international debuts for Australia alongside veteran Roma Dunn in the triples.
New Zealand has named Asia Pacific singles bronze medallist Jo Edwards in the prestigious singles position, whilst sisters Marina and Jan Khan will play pairs.
World pairs champion Sharon Sims will lead the triples with Serena Matthews playing second and Val Smith skipping.
Malaysia’s strong line-up includes Commonwealth Games singles gold medallist Siti Zalina Ahmad playing singles, pairs players Bah Chui Mei and Haslah Hasan, and Nor Iryani Azmi, Azlina Arshad and Nor Hashimah Ismail combining in the triples.
Australia’s singles representative at the Commonwealth Games will be the only team member missing the event as he defends his Welsh Masters crown in the UK.
The Lawn Bowls Competition at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games will run from 16-24 March at the State Lawn Bowls Centre.
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