WHEN Yorke Peninsula blade shearer John Dalla broke his right hand two months ago playing hockey, it couldn't have come at a worse time.
But within weeks he was back on the boards and is ready to compete against the world's best from 30 countries.
The Orrie Cowie Merino stud principal from Warooka will next week represent Australia at the Golden Shears World Sheep Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Le Dorat, France.
"I feel as good as I have for a while and the (downs type) sheep should suit us really well," he said.
"We are not shearing Merinos but they are a long way better than shearing a Romney."
Mr Dalla is confident about his technique but has been working hard on building up his arm, hand and wrist strength, with each entrant required to shear six sheep for the final.
"It is a bit more difficult now that I am farming full-time but I try and do as much as I can with an hour or so at a time here and there," Mr Dalla said.
At 30 years of age he is something of a veteran, having picked up his first shears as a 12-year-old.
A year later he entered his first competition at the Australian Sheep & Wool Show in Bendigo, Vic, where his family were showing their sheep, and at 15 years of age he made his first nationals.
Blade shearing may be a dying art but Mr Dalla gets plenty of practice blade shearing his sale rams, which he says gives a better finish than machine shearing.
"Whenever I blade shear lambs in winter they seem to do better too," he said.
"If they are blade shorn as lambs they have more supple skin and seem to cut a lot more wool as hoggets," he said.
He first made the Australian team as an 18-year-old, travelling to Norway in 2008 for the Golden Shears where he finished seventh.
He has been to three other world championships since, placing as high as third.
Mr Dalla also has an enviable record of making the Trans Tasman team, taking on the best New Zealand blade shearers for the past 12 successive years.
"I love competing and to get the opportunity to compete at that level to perfect what I am doing with the best in the world," he said.
"I am a little bit of a perfectionist, so anything that I do I want to do to the best of my abilities."
Mr Dalla will be joined by fellow blade shearer Ken French, Glen Isla, Vic, in the Australian team, along with machine shearers Jason Wingfield, Cobram, Vic, and Daniel McIntyre, Glen Innes, NSW, and wool handlers Mel Morris, Longford, Tas, and Rachael Hutchison, Gilgandra, NSW.
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