Young Simpson lawn bowler Tom Spokes has defied his inexperience to earn a berth in the West Coast Region representative squad.
Spokes is the youngest bowler in the 16-member team which will contest Bowls Victoria’s regional sides championships at Horsham on January 5 and 6.
The 20-year-old will play as a leader in a talent-laden team hoping to upstage its country and metropolitan rivals. West Coast Region chairman of selectors Ron Horne celebrated Spokes’ inclusion by saying he was “the future”.
“That’s the advantage. If he’s successful, he’s the future. You can’t have all the older guys for ever and ever,” he said.
Horne said the West Coast was capable of winning its four-team pool and progressing to semi-finals at the annual titles. West Coast will take on Gippsland, Eastern Ranges and Murray-Mallee at Sunnyside Bowling Club first up.
Nine players from the 2012 team remain, while five — Spokes, Jamie Heffernan, Darren Gordon, Angus Jackson and Gary Body — will make their debuts.
“If you were to stupidly assume you can beat people on paper, we think the draw is probably slightly in our favour,” Horne said. “Not that we think we’re better than the others, but we don’t have any metro teams to play in the first round.
“We play country teams who are suited to the same conditions we play in.”
Horne said the West Coast team was close to full strength but was missing experienced players who were unavailable.
Among those are City Memorial pair Peter Pangrazio and Vince Moloney.
“We think it’s a fairly competitive side.
“It’s solidly grounded with players from last year,” Horne said.
West Coast Region squad is: Ian Richardson (City Memorial), Stewart Trigg (Colac City), Darren Gordon (Dunkeld), John Murnane (Dennington, skipper); Jamie Heffernan (Terang), Allen Sullivan (Grangeburn), Gary Body (Camperdown), Ian Johnson (Colac City, skipper); Anthony Parkinson (Warrnambool), Angus Jackson (Dunkeld), Brian Lenehan (Warrnambool), Paul O’Donnell (Warrnambool, skipper); Tom Spokes (Simpson), Matt Solly (Portland RSL), Damian Broderick (Camperdown), Neil Crisp (Warrnambool, skipper).