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Smith and Henare eyeing century of wins

Reigning Golden Shears and New Zealand shearing champion and former World Champion Rowland Smith is targeting 100th Open-class win today in Pukekohe, just a day after winning two more titles 1700km away at Gore in Southland.

The 30-year-old, who grew up and learnt his shearing stuff in Northland and now lives with wife and fellow record-breaking shearer Ingrid and their two children at Maraekakaho, west of Hastings, yesterday took his total to 99 with successful defences of both the South Island Shearer of the Year and Southern Shears Open titles.

Smith, who first shore in competition more than 16 years ago and who was well known on the shearing scene by the time he hit the top class in late 2006, with Golden Shears Junior and Senior titles behind him, is in his 11th season in the Open-class.

His first Open final win was at Kaikohe in January 2008 and today he returns to the scene of his first A-grade Open win in the Counties Shears in 2010.

He hasn't been beaten at Counties since then, but did not compete there in 2015, and his other victories include three Golden Shears Open titles in Masterton, four New Zealand Open titles in Te Kuiti, and the World title in Ireland in 2014, one of 13 finals he has won in the UK and Ireland. He has also won one in Australia.

Last year was his busiest season with 19 wins in New Zealand, and he has already had 12 wins this season, including the Southland All Nations Championship which he won nine days ago during the World Championships in Invercargill, having missed selection in the New Zealand team in a rare falter in the selection series final in November.

Only a small number of New Zealand shearers have won more than a century of Open titles, headed by Te Kuiti shearing legend Sir David Fagan, with 642 and the last previously to reach the milestone being Napier gun John Kirkpatrick whose World Championships was one of more than 200 wins in his career.

Reigning Golden Shears and New Zealand woolhandling champion Joel Henare, who last week won the World title for a second time, moved a step closer to an even rarer century milestone when he won the Southern Shears Open woolhandling final in Gore on Friday.

Although aged just 25 and already in his 11th season in the top class, it's thought to have been his 92nd Open-class win, the only woolhandler to previously have reached the century being late mentor and multiple World, Golden Shears and New Zealand champion Joanne Kumeroa. The number of opportunities means he is likely to be targeting the century early next season.