by Rob McGuire on November 10, 2023

The Bowls Premier League (BPL) returns to its spiritual home of Club Pine Rivers in the Moreton Bay Region and bowls fans are set to be treated to the most captivating edition of the tournament yet.

Seventeen former tournament champions will take to the famous carpet, with some new faces set to dazzle under lights for the first time at the made-for-television event.

The Tasmania Tridents are striving for a second finals appearance having finished fourth at Pine Rivers in BPL15.   Mark Strochnetter’s team may look a little different to back then, but Rebecca Van Asch will be as tenacious as ever to bring glory to her state, and with the pedigree of Michael Sims and tournament debutant Rob McMullen by her side, the franchise from the Apple Isle will be very confident in a deep run.

After dominating proceedings at home in February, the Moama Steamers return with an unchanged lineup, consisting of six-time MVP and five-time winner Aron Sherriff, recently crowned world men’s singles champion Ryan Bester and Australian Open women’s singles conqueror Cassandra Millerick.   Kevin Anderson returns to coach the trio as they look for a fourth title as a franchise.

The Sydney Lions have made one change, with Steve Glasson OAM to coach Ben Twist, Aaron Wilson and Dawn Hayman, who has come in as a late replacement for Karen Murphy AM.

Sydney holds the record for most titles with four and after a runner-up showing on the Murray, the trio will strive to hoist the trophy for the first time since BPL14 in 2022.

At home, and anywhere, it would be impossible to count out the star-studded Moreton Bay Pirates with the line up of two-time champion and MVP Alex Marshall MBE, Jo Edwards and home club favourite Chris Rosanes.  The Ryan Burnett led juggernaut has reached the finals at the past five events without tasting the ultimate success, and with the parochial Pirates fan base in the house with their now famous cardboard cut outs, the team will be striving to finally step back into the winner’s circle and add to their two titles, the last of which was won at BPL08.

For a while, the Tweed Heads Ospreys were the talk of the tournament, winning three championships from the franchise’s maiden four events.   Since that third crown at BPL13, only two finals series have been produced for the Wayne Turley OAM led squad.   But with an unchanged team of Chloe Stewart and the MVP and now World Championships winning pair of Aaron Teys and Corey Wedlock, the Ospreys will loom large on everyone’s radar.

On the previous two occasions that Pine Rivers has hosted this coveted competition, the Melbourne Pulse has been the conqueror.   For a seventh straight event, the team of Barrie Lester, Ellen Ryan and 2023 World Champion Gary Kelly will front up for the Dandenong Club franchise as they look to gain a third trophy under the guidance of Jeremy Henry.

The Adelaide Pioneers are always thereabouts at the tournament, having progressed to the finals at two of the past four events.   Les Carter returns as coach with the unchanged squad of Katelyn Inch and five-time finalists in Scott Thulborn and Wayne Ruediger.

Also looking for a maiden title as a franchise are the Melbourne eXtreme, with Right at Home Jackaroo Kylie Whitehead coming in for her tournament debut and fan favourite Matt Flapper returning to join Ali Forsyth, the Kelvin Kerkow led team will see themselves as a massive threat for the opposition.

The Perth Suns will bring a new coach to the tournament as Bill Brandsma takes charge of Blake Nairn, Kristina Krstic and recently crowned Australian men’s singles champion Cody Packer as the Western Australian franchise searches for its maiden finals win.

Striving to progress to the franchise’s first Friday night appearance since returning to the event, the Gold Coast Hawks are back with a new-look line up to challenge for the team’s first championship since BPL07.    Mark Thatcher takes over as coach, while Brett Wilkie joins Hawks stalwarts Kelsey Cottrell and Nathan Rice in their bid for silverware.

BPL18 runs from November 13-17, 2023, at Club Pine Rivers with live streaming on Bowls Australia’s YouTube channel, as well as live broadcasts from Tuesday to Friday from 4pm until 10pm AEST on Fox, Kayo and Sky Sports NZ.