Grizz brings wily touch to new team
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.