The fifth instalment of the Bowls Premier League is gearing up for its inaugural staging in Auckland New Zealand with eight powerhouse franchises lining up for the revolutionary fast-paced event.
In another first for BPL, viewers will be treated to matches played on a portable rink inside the North Shore Events Centre, the home of the New Zealand Breakers basketball team, with 20 hours of live broadcast on Sky Sports NZ and Fox Sports here in Australia from February 27 to March 2.
When trying to predict a winner it will be hard to bet against BPL04 Champions the BCiB Sydney Lions with their unchanged playing line-up for the contest across the ditch.
Australian Jackaroos Aron Sherriff, Ben Twist and Karen Murphy can create history as the first BPL side to go back-to-back with the Sydney Lions; the foreign territory will prove challenging for many franchises however the Sydney Lions boast plenty of experience competing in New Zealand and have activated a change in their coaches box.
Someone who knows about Australian teams succeeding in New Zealand is National Coach Steve Glasson OAM who recently guided his Australian contingent to a record breaking haul at the 2016 World Championships in Christchurch and will replace Gary Willis at the helm of his former BPL team the BCiB Sydney Lions.
The Blackjacks have boosted their hopes with the return of New Zealand legend Jo Edwards who lifted the trophy alongside team mate Shannon McIlroy, the recently crowned World Singles Champion, in BPL03.
2016 World Fours Champion Blake Signal steps in for Ali Forsyth whilst in the coaching arena Dave Edwards’ allegiance is now with Club Pine Rivers owned franchise the Brisbane Pirates and replacing him as both the BPL coach and New Zealand Blackjacks National Coach is former World Champion Sharon Sims.
Another franchise to trigger a change to their line-up is the Brisbane Pirates which have failed to make a finals appearance since the inaugural BPL where they claimed the $40,000 first prize in front of a home crowd at Club Pine Rivers.
Australia’s number one ranked female bowler Natasha Scott and former Australian representative Sean Baker survived the cull, however Commonwealth Games gold medallist Kelvin Kerkow OAM was not so lucky, paving the way for an in form Jeremy Henry to step back into the BPL arena.
Henry represented the Perth Suns in the opening two instalments where they featured in both finals campaigns and was then poached by the Brisbane Pirates in 2013.
After a year on the sidelines, the numerous World Title holder and flag bearer for Northern Ireland at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, will be back on your screens establishing a formidable maroon’s outfit capable of reclaiming the BPL trophy.
Cross-town rivals the Gold Coast Hawks have re-arranged their side with Commonwealth Games gold medallist and World Champion Mark Casey joining his Australian and Club Helensvale team mates Lynsey Clarke and Brett Wilkie back into their star-studded line-up.
Australian Jackaroo Nathan Rice will replace Anthony Kiepe as the Gold Coast Hawks Coach.
Another World Champion back for BPL05 is former MVP, the Messenger Press Adelaide Endurance star Scott Thulborn off the back of his recent victory in the World Champion of Champion Singles at Club Helensvale; however this comes at a cost to Wayne Ruediger who had been present for Adelaide’s four consecutive finals appearances.
We’ll see another BPL debutant make his mark in New Zealand; Perth Suns newest recruit John Slavich will not go un-noticed in BPL05 and will add some spark to the team from the west.
Two other franchises have opted for an unchanged line-up for BPL05; the Blundstone Melbourne Roys, BPL04 semi-finalist, and the Murray Steamers, the BPL04 runner-up franchise will stick with their teams for the Auckland instalment.
BPL05 will be broadcast live on Sky Sports NZ and Fox Sports Australia at 6.00pm to 11.00pm NZDT (4.00pm to 9.00pm AEDT) from February 27 to March 2.
The broadcast matches will be filmed at North Shore Events Centre, while the day-time rubbers will be played at the nearby Sunnybrae Bowling; entry is free of charge to both venues.
Coach- Les Carter
Coach- Dave Edwards
Gold Coast Hawks
Coach- Nathan Rice
Coach- Todd Simmons
Coach- Barry Brennan
New Zealand Blackjacks
Coach- Sharon Sims
Coach- Therese Hastings
Coach- Steve Glasson
Caption- BPL franchises confirm their sides for BPL05 in Auckland New Zealand.