England’s Stef Branfield has her eyes set firmly on the prize, as she competes in the World Bowls Champion of Champions event starting on Saturday (November 19) at Naenae BC in New Zealand.
The 32-year-old secured her spot at the prestigious event following her incredible 2021 season.
Branfield achieved a spectacular double at the Bowls England National Championships, lifting both the women’s national singles and the two-wood singles crowns, and almost hit the treble after reaching the final of the champion of champions event, where she was pipped to the post by Ellen Falkner MBE.
“I am really looking forward to playing in the event as I have never competed in the Southern Hemisphere,” said Branfield.
“It is a new challenge – I have only had quick roll-up in Australia in 2018 when I went to watch the Commonwealth Games.
“I’m not going to try and put too much pressure on myself, I just want to play as well as I can and not let myself down.
“Obviously, I would love to win, and it would be the icing on the cake after winning the national singles, which was a dream come true.
“The main thing I want to do is enjoy the experience and opportunity to play against other countries.”
Branfield will be looking to replicate the success of Julie Leake, who was the last English woman to win the title back in 2006.
“I am borrowing a set of Henselite Dreamline XG and I have had a few roll-ups on my journey down to Wellington, so that I could get a bit of extra practice in before the event,” Branfield added.
“I am lucky enough to be incorporating a holiday with my parents, which we were supposed to do in 2020 to New Zealand, but it got cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now we are going away for longer with the tournament in between.”
Branfield will be joined in New Zealand by Devon ace Sam Tolchard, as he looks to follow in the footsteps of Mark Walton (2005) and Tom Bishop (2013). Other UK hopes in the event sit with Steve Williams (Guernsey), Ian McCloy and Jennifer McClure (Ireland), Ross Davis (Jersey), Gordon White (Scotland) and Kevin James and Mel Thomas (Wales).
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