Classy field flying in to raid Golden Eagle's perch

A COMMONWEALTH Games gold medallist and the current world number two will lead a crack field in next week’s Local Bloke Removalists Golden Eagle.

Adding significant lawn bowls weight to the region’s richest tournament, both South African-born Neil Burkett and Ireland’s Jeremy Henry have nominated for the 46th edition of the famous Golden Eagle Pairs Classic.

Burkett’s South African side defeated Australia to win gold at the Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, Canada, in 1978, while Henry, bowling out of the Warilla club, is currently the number two ranked player in the game.

Boasting a heavily decorated career spanning over 40 years, Burkett has been lured to the tournament by Golden Eagle guru Lee Stinson and said his affection for lawn bowls in Australia started following his win in Canada almost 40 years ago.

“That’s how I ended up here, beating your blokes in Canada and winning gold ... before I retired in South Africa I had about 30 trips to Australia,” he said. 

“I’m enjoying (retired) life in Sydney now.”

Skippering South Africa throughout a 25-year international career, Burkett will partner Merrylands teammate Michael Clarke in next week’s Golden Eagle.

“Not the cricket captain ... let’s not talk about the cricket,” Burkett laughed.

“In this game, the less people that know me the better. There’s always people who want to show you they can play bowls. In my pennants team our average age is about 31 ... I blow it out a lot,” the 65-year-old added.

“I still like to think I can show the young guys a thing or two.”

Set to bowl with fellow Warilla bowler Jared Hamilton, Henry skyrocketed onto the world ranking list in 2013.

A result of his momentous back-to-back World Cup victory on his home club’s indoor greens last week, the world number two and former Northern Ireland bowler will bowl out of section two at next week’s Eagle, set to be contested at the Orange City, Newstead and Country Club bowling greens.

The 2014 Local Bloke Removalists Golden Eagle begins on Monday.

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