Kiwi record holders will be star attraction in Kilkenny
Brothers favourites for top prize at championships but face stiff competition from Irish shearers
Three shearing world record holders -- all brothers -- are among the star attractions at next week's Clik All-Ireland Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Kilkenny.
New Zealanders Doug, Rowland and Matthew Smith have already been installed as favourites to take the the Clik Irish International title on their first visit to Ireland.
Doug and Rowland are the current world record holders for 'two-stand' shearing, having shorn 1,066 sheep in eight hours in Hawke's Bay, New Zealand, in January. They beat the previous record of 986, which had stood for 11 years.
Doug's shearing tally was 504 and his brother accounted for 562, so their combined total beat the old record by 80 sheep. Doug's total in each session was 127, 129, 126 and 122, while Rowland's score was 141, 142, 140 and 139.
The pair's remarkable win came after Rowland was forced out of the 2009-2010 shearing season due to an unexplained back injury.
"Shearing rams one day, just woke up the next day sore, could hardly walk, and it just didn't go away," said Rowland.
At one stage, surgery was in the offing, but Rowland overcame the injury with the help of a sports medic, and later a triathlon trainer, as he prepared for January's record.
Not to be outdone, their brother Matthew set a world record for solo shearing last year when he accounted for 578 sheep in an officially timed session in Waitara, New Zealand.