New Zealand’s lawn bowlers have an unusual “home territory” bonus as they head into the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Seven of the 15 competitors in the New Zealand bowls team live in Australia, including three – Jo Edwards, Katelyn Inch and Paul Girdler - who live in Brisbane or on the Gold Coast.

Edwards, the reigning singles champion, is attending her fourth Commonwealth Games. With five world championship medals, including two gold, and two Commonwealth Games gold medals to her name, she is vastly experienced. She will compete in the singles and the pairs (with Val Smith) over the next fortnight.

Edwards, 48, has an added advantage heading into the Games.

In January 2016 she and husband Dave moved to north Brisbane. The extra practice on Queensland greens won’t do her Games chances any harm.

“The move has probably helped with the Games being held here,” she said, “but I’d always talked about moving. Then I got an offer from the Pine Rivers club. Dave had finished his coaching contract with Bowls New Zealand so it was a good opportunity for us.”

She said she was enjoying her time in Brisbane, though sometimes the heat and humidity in summer were a challenge. More recently, she has been able to put in plenty of practice on the Broadbeach greens, where the Games will be played.

Inch should be even more accustomed to the conditions on the Gold Coast.

About a year ago she moved to Broadbeach and she actually lives only a couple of blocks from the Games venue.

“I was pretty keen to move here anyway,” Inch said. “There are so many good players here and the competition is so tough that it really helps raise the level of your game. The fact that the Commonwealth Games are here has been a real bonus and I feel a bit like I am playing on home ground.”

Inch, 22, has a world championship bronze medal to her name and will compete in the triples and fours at the Games.

She was reluctant to give away too much before competition begins, but said she had been trying to help team-mates with information about conditions on the Gold Coast.

“The greens generally run a little slower, especially after the rain. In New Zealand we’re used to wide swinging greens and more wind.”

The lawn bowls competition runs from April 5-13.

Gold Coast 2018 Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Jo Edwards Katelyn Inch Paul Girdler Val Smith Lawn Bowls
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