Grizz brings wily touch to new team

Marlborough Express - - FRONT PAGE -

Aformer All Black will bring a com­pet­i­tive edge to a na­tional bowls com­pe­ti­tion. Alex ‘Grizz’ Wyl­lie head­lines the Wood­end Jets, Can­ter­bury’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the in­au­gu­ral Bowl­s3­five league, which will be broad­cast live on Sky Spor ton Tues­day and Wed­nes­day nights for six weeks, start­ing later this month.

Wyl­lie is in his sixth sea­son play­ing club bowls, fol­low­ing a dec­o­rated play­ing and coach­ing ca­reer in rugby union.

The 74-year-old coached the All Blacks to 25 wins in 29 tests be­tween 1988 and 1991 – an 86 per cent win­ning per­cent­age. He is hope­ful he can bring his win­ning men­tal­ity to the Jets.

‘‘I’d like to think so, but the bloody bowls don’t al­ways go where they’re meant to,’’ Wyl­lie said.

Wyl­lie is the Wood­end Bowl­ing Club’s des­ig­nated ‘‘grumpy old man’’ and is ex­pected to be an­tag­o­nised on the greens by team-mate Na Katae, who still holds a grudge that Wyl­lie didn’t pick him for Can­ter­bury and the All Blacks.

Wyl­lie, who played 11 tests as an All Blacks back-rower in the early 1970s, said the fo­cus was on en­joy­ing them­selves, while be­ing com­pet­i­tive.

‘‘We haven’t got any out­siders in to boost us,’’ he said. ‘‘We don’t have any no­table play­ers, but we hope we can per­form and not make fools out of our­selves."

The Wood­end Jets are the old­est team in Bowl­s3­five and boast the old­est player, club pres­i­dent Rae Miller, 78, who has skipped the club’s win­ning women’s four for the past three sea­sons.

‘‘Some­body else chose me. It wasn’t my idea,’’ Miller said. ‘‘I’m hop­ing she [Jenny An­der­son] will be fine and I won’t have to play.’’

An­der­son is Wyl­lie’s part­ner and Wood­end Bowl­ing Club’s reign­ing women’s sin­gles and pairs cham­pion.

Neil Ti­plady and the club’s bar man­ager, Daryl Neate, round out the Jets.

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