Injury rules Golden Shears favourite out of 2024 competition
Rural News
Rural News

Injury rules Golden Shears favourite out of 2024 competition

Rowland Smith, the towering figure in New Zealand's shearing community, standing at nearly two meters tall, has reluctantly withdrawn from this year's Golden Shears due to an unexpected injury setback. 

The 37-year-old from Hawke's Bay, boasting eight Golden Shears Open titles and a 2014 World Championship under his belt, made the tough call just hours after learning the severity of his injury.

Smith, who had been nursing the injury while balancing farming, rural contracting, and family commitments, acknowledged the risk of exacerbating the injury further. His sights were set on defending his Golden Shears title, but with the three-day event looming and the Open championship heats fast approaching, withdrawal became the only viable option.

"I had been working towards defending the title, so it was a disappointment to have to withdraw at almost the last minute," Smith said.

The news of his withdrawal sent shockwaves through the shearing community, particularly among betting enthusiasts. The TAB, the sole betting agency globally to accept wagers on shearing competitions, witnessed a flurry of activity following Smith's announcement.

Initially pegged as the favourite at $1.70, Smith's odds fluctuated as attention shifted to other contenders like Toa Henderson from Northland. However, Smith's withdrawal saw Henderson emerge as the frontrunner, with odds in his favour at $1.45.

Leon Samuels, the 2023 New Zealand Shears Open winner and World Championships team member, also saw his odds improve, now standing at $2.90.

Smith's absence from the Golden Shears final marks a significant break in tradition. Since his debut in the final in 2011, Smith has been an unstoppable force, clinching victory in every six-man showdown he's entered.

Reflecting on past triumphs, Smith's absence opens the field for competitors like North Island-based Scottish shearer Gavin Mutch, a former Golden Shears winner himself and now a contender for the title on Saturday night.

While Smith's fans will undoubtedly miss witnessing his prowess on the shearing stage this year, his focus remains on recovery and regrouping for future challenges, including vying for a spot in the New Zealand team for the 2026 World Championships in Masterton.

As the Golden Shears kicks off without its reigning champion, anticipation mounts over who will rise to the occasion and claim the coveted title in Smith's absence.