Australian bowls debut proves right call for Bevan fan
He might have had Michael Bevan's poster on his wall as a child, but that did not stop Andrew Howie from choosing lawn bowls over cricket.
That decision is starting to pay off for the Tuggeranong Valley skipper as he will make his debut for Australia as part of the development side challenging New Zealand in the trans-Tasman series in Auckland, which starts on Tuesday.
He will be joined by fellow ACT bowler Brad Thomas, who is part of the under-18 team to play the Kiwis at Howick Bowling Club.
Australian coach Steve Glasson said Howie probably would not make next year's Commonwealth Games squad in Glasgow, but he felt 2018 on the Gold Coast was a realistic chance.
Howie, 25, agreed. ''Realistically that'd be my goal, but you never know what's around the corner,'' he said.
''I might come out and have a good couple of years and win a few titles, but realistically, 2018 for me I'd be pushing towards.''
But Howie could have chosen a different path.
He played cricket and bowls for the ACT, but when it came to a choice, the latter won.
''Cricket was big, I played cricket up until I was 14,'' Howie said.
''I had to sort of choose because I was racing between cricket on the Saturday and Sunday morning to bowls in the afternoon; I just couldn't do it, which was a shame.
''I was in the ACT squad, but in the end I think choosing bowls was a good choice.''
The Tuggeranong club, where he works, has strong links with the Commonwealth Games; members Gary Willis and Adam Jeffery were both part of the 2002 team in Manchester.
Thomas also spent a season with Tuggeranong before moving to Yass, closer to his home town of Tumut.
Coincidentally, Jeffery is also from Tumut, along with his brother Damon, who is in the NSW-ACT national training squad.
And so Thomas had a role model and mentor in the game.
''I grew up with Adam Jeffery [as an idol] … he's dad's best mate, they went to school together,'' Thomas said.
''He's always been one of my idols; you ask any of the Australian players who the best player they've played against and they'll say Adam Jeffery.''
The pair played against each other recently and Jeffery offered some advice about what to expect across the ditch, and to train with him.
Thomas said it was only in the last week before leaving for New Zealand that it finally sank in that he was about to make his Australian debut.