Regional | Shearing

Rusty gun shearer takes on the world’s best in Wales, then switches sports

Jimmy Samuels’s (l) competitive spirit has seen him book a ticket to Wales to compete in some of the world’s best Speed Shearing contests.

Jimmy Samuels (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Pikiao) is one of three shearers heading to the Welsh International Speed Shear, The Royal Welsh Show, Cnefio Cothi Shears and the Cnefio Corwen Shears on Thursday after winning the open category at the Wagga Wagga competition last month.

He told he was originally invited to Wagga Wagga to commentate the competition before he found the pull of competing too strong.

“If I was commentating, I might as well have a go, and, yeah, I sealed my seat to Wales.”

He started shearing at the age of 16 but decided to step away 18 months ago to take up a role as an agricultural tutor.

He says his winning the Wagga Wagga title while not being an actual shearer raised the eyebrows of some of the others he beat.

“I hadn't shorn in a year and a half but I had a really good year at the speed shears. So, yeah, some of them were trying to tell me I was all shit, really saying I'm not shearing. But I think I had my best year at shearing competitions and I didn't shear for a year and a half, so I don't know how that works.”

Welsh passion

However, he’s looking forward to returning to Wales and taking on the best shearers there, who have just conquered the world championships.

“I used to travel there a lot when I was younger with my wife. We used to work in Wales and I’ve got to say the Royal Welsh show has got to be the best shearing competition in the world.

“We know what the Welsh are like in the rugby, they're loud and proud, and they all get up and sing the anthem. That rings true throughout the whole country, and they bring it to the table when they're shearing as well. It's just a good positive atmosphere, I'm looking forward to getting back in amongst that and catching up with a lot of friends.

“A few of their shearers are some of the best in the world at the moment. So to go over there and try and beat them in their own backyard at their own game is going to be quite the challenge."

When he’s not shearing, Samuels, who grew up in Tuatāpere, Southland but now lives in Marton, competes on the New Zealand darts circuit - passion that grew fierce in his last days living in the UK.

Amateur to pro in four days

“My wife and I had five days off, so we were just staying in a bar. And I was throwing darts at a dartboard every lunchtime and the owner came out and he started teaching me. By the third or fourth day, I started beating him and he said, ‘Look man, I'm no slouch at darts and I used to do the British Darts Organisation circuit and you're beating me’, so he recommended me chasing after this."

After returning to Aotearoa in 2017 he joined a club in nearby Palmerston North and got selected to represent New Zealand in South Korea. That passion has now become another fulltime job, taking ownership of the Darts Shop Manukau from Lorene Earnshaw, who had supported Samuels when he first started playing.

“I've always had an interest in being a business owner but I didn't want it to be too big. So she and her partner moved up to the Far North, and I asked them what they were doing with the business and they jokingly said ‘selling it to you!’ I couldn’t sleep that night, I called them back the next morning and asked if they were serious. They said 'not really' but ‘if you are, we’ll sit down and have a talk. My wife and I had a chat and were keen. We’ve had it for a week.”

He says that is providing him with extra motivation in Wales as his wife and whānau deal with the new business supplying darts, boards and accessories to clubs and enthusiasts across the country.

Feeling guilty

“I kind of threw her in the deep end purchasing a business and I’m pretty much on holiday for 10 days. I think we've got the bulk of it, and it's just all business side of things. My wife's quite handy with the accounting side of work. She'll just chip away at that while I'm away. And then, hopefully, when I get back, we'll pick things off, we'll get right into it.

“So yeah, I'm hoping she doesn't do too much when I'm away because then I'll feel just a little bit more guilty.

“She’s got plenty of expectations, so I better answer the call.”

Samuels leaves for Wales on Thursday, with Lou Brown and Ethan Harder joining him after the pair won the teams event at Wagga Wagga.

Public Interest Journalism