South Australian lawn bowl team members Wayne Ruediger a … hunting glory at Lockleys Bowling Club. Picture: Bianca De Marchi
SOUTH Australia hopes to erase three decades of pain as it hits the greens for the Australian Sides Championships at Lockleys Bowling Club today.
The host state last took out the men’s title in 1988 and has never claimed silverware in the women’s division.
The Croweaters came closest to a breakthrough triumph in 2015 when the male side led the round-robin tournament entering its last game.
But a heartbreaking one-shot defeat at the hands of ACT relegated SA to second and prolonged the drought for state team veterans such as Wayne Ruediger.
“It was really disappointing to drop that one,” Grange bowler Ruediger said.
“We’re usually around the mark but we need to make sure we get all the components right for us to be a chance.
“The group at the moment has been together for five or six years and a couple of us have been playing in these championships for close to 20 years, so it would be nice to finally win one.”
The tournament will feature 192 of the country’s top-ranked bowlers representing their states in 12-player male and female squads.
Each side will play seven matches across the four-day event at the scene of the 2012 World Bowls Championships.
SA’s men’s team includes Adelaide Endurance Bowls Premier League representatives Scott Thulborn and Max Kleinig, as well as young gun Nathan Pedersen.
It faces reigning champion Victoria and 19-time champion NSW in a daunting day-one fixture.
“There can be a home ground advantage, but then it also adds a bit of pressure because you’re expected to do well,” 129-game Australian Jackeroo Ruediger said.
“Traditionally you need to win at least six games as a rule (to win the title).
“It’s pretty cutthroat and you don’t want to be dropping too many games.”
The new-look SA women’s line-up boasts Breeanna Johnson, who has featured in the past two editions of the BPL, and Renata Callisto, last season’s state events player of the year.
Adelaide bowler Cassandra Harvey will return for her fifth sides championship aiming to improve on the team’s top-five finish in 2016.
“Every year we’re up there, but consistency throughout the whole week and just staying chilled is going to be the key,” Harvey, 21, said.
“I won a premiership with my club last year and that was unbelievable.
“To do it with my state would be amazing.”