Couple to go head-to-head for Senior Woolhandler of the Year title

Ricci and Angela Stevens.
Ricci and Angela Stevens. Photo credit: Supplied

It could be the fight of their marriage, as a husband and wife go head to head for the Senior Woolhandler of the Year title.

Napier couple Ricci and Angela Stevens are tied for first place in Shearing Sports New Zealand's Senior Woolhandling ranks for this season.

The pair will battle it out on Thursday, at the last event of the season - the New Zealand Shearing Championships in Te Kuiti.

Mr Stevens, 26, said there's a lot of rivalry between them, but most of it is just fun and games.

"She's quite competitive, she's quite a hard loser - but she's awesome, she's really, really good," he said.

"I always want her to win, and I don't know if she wants me to win but I'll give it my best I suppose."

Meanwhile Ms Stevens, 26, said her husband will be her toughest competition.

"It all just comes down to the day. Ricci's doing pretty good lately but at the end of the day you're competing against other people as well so it's anyone's game," she said.

The couple have been together for around 14 years and have an almost two-year-old son together.

They both studied at Massey University in Palmerston North. Ms Stevens obtained a degree in finance management, Mr Stevens in sport and exercise.

But it's in the sheds they feel most at home.

It runs in the blood for Ms Stevens - her father John Kirkpatrick is a World Champion shearer and his wife Raylene heavily involved in the sector.

Ms Stevens is a stay at home mum to Carter and does the accounts for her parents' shearing contracting business in Hawke's Bay.

Mr and Mrs Stevens with their son Carter.
Mr and Mrs Stevens with their son Carter. Photo credit: Supplied

She introduced Mr Stevens to the sheds and he has now been peeling sheep for around three years.

"I like a good challenge, so it's good just to put yourself through the paces, just enjoy yourself I suppose," Mr Stevens said

"Woolhandling is the same it's got its own challenges in itself so you just got to try work it out and just do your best.

"Competing is just the best side of it - it's just fun."

The couple have gone head to head in seven finals this year.

Ms Stevens won two shows before Christmas, while Mr Stevens has taken out the rest.

She was named the number one junior woolhandler for the 2015-16 season, Mr Stevens hot on her heels, taking out the same title last season.

Ms Stevens missed out by just one point for the top Senior spot last year and said this year she hopes the table turns.

"If we both make the final, we definitely are out there to win," she said.

"It's not fun and games once you get to the final. I would definitely love to win, but we'll see.

When asked who one of their biggest competitors is for the Senior Woolhandler of the Year, they both named Ash Boyce.

However he can only take out the title if neither Ms Stevens or Mr Stevens make it to the finals on Thursday.

"Everyone's a challenge - you never know until the day," Ms Stevens said.

"You could have a shearer shear a sheep that's not good, or you could get yellow or black wool that you don't see - so it really depends on the sheep as well and what you get, and that's a challenge in itself."

Both Mr and Ms Stevens refused to predict who will win the title. They agreed at the end of the day, they will leave it up to the judge.

"As long as one of us is up there or in the finals, then I'm happy," Ms Stevens said.

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