The Illawarra Gorillas will muscle in on the next $100,000 Bowls Premier League competition, Bowls Australia have confirmed today.
The Gorillas join the sport’s made-for-television event, which features 20 hours of live broadcast on Fox Sports biannually, through a licence acquired by the powerhouse Warilla Bowls and Recreation Club, in the Illawarra region of NSW.
Despite the addition to the BPL competition, which is approaching its sixth staging next month, the eight-team format will remain the same, with the Gorillas replacing the Adelaide Endurance.
The Endurance leave the competition after five events, which included three runner-up finishes in the initial three stagings.
Their replacements, the Gorillas, boast a formidable line-up in their maiden outing, naming five-time World Cup winner Jeremy Henry alongside 2015 Australian Open winner Aaron Teys and Scottish international Kay Moran in a star-studded playing roster, with zone representative Wes Falconer appointed as Coach.
Bowls Australia Chief Executive Officer Neil Dalrymple applauded Warilla Bowls and Recreation Club for securing the Illawarra Gorillas licence, and thanked Bowls SA for their support during BPL01-05.
“We’re very pleased to announce that Warilla Bowls and Recreation Club have joined the BPL competition as the Illawarra Gorillas,” Dalrymple said.
“They represent a very strong bowls region in NSW and we feel that their inclusion in the BPL will be a very positive one for the competition.
“While we are disappointed not to have a team representing Adelaide, we are optimistic that they will re-join the competition in years to come and I thank Bowls SA for having the courage and foresight to be one of the inaugural licensees.”
Warilla Bowls and Recreation Club General Manager Phillip Kipp was equally excited about the opportunity to be involved in the BPL.
“The Warilla Club is buzzing with anticipation at the prospect of competing in the BPL,” Kipp said.
“We’ve watched the excitement and drama of the competition on Fox Sports since the BPL’s inception and everyone at the Club can’t wait to see the Illawarra Gorillas mix it with the best players in the sport.”
The Gorillas’ Coach Wes Falconer said they boast a team of champions that will ensure they feature among the pointy end of the competition.
“We have three in-form international players in the team and we’ll be gunning for the title,” Falconer said.
“I’d expect that come semi-final time the Gorillas will be in the mix and have the class and experience to go all the way.”
BPL06 is set to be staged at Queensland’s Club Pine Rivers from November 14 to 17, with live coverage from 6.00pm to 11.00pm AEDST each day.
Following that, BPL07 will again be staged across the ditch in New Zealand, with the 2018 dates still to be confirmed.
Over the coming days, Bowls Australia will announce the playing rosters for the remaining seven teams; the Moreton BayBrisbane Pirates, Club Helensvale Gold Coast Hawks, Blundstone Melbourne Roys, Moama Bowls Club Murray Steamers, New Zealand Blackjacks, BLK Perth Suns and BCiB Sydney Lions.