Six of the country’s top butchers have been named in the national butchery team who will be travelling to Belfast, Ireland in March 2018 to compete at the World Butchers’ Challenge.

The competition started in 2011 as a Trans-Tasman affair and has grown with teams from Bulgaria, Brazil, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, South Africa and USA joining returning competitors, Great Britain, France and Australia.

Team captain Corey Winder, from Elite Meats in Christchurch, is excited about the challenge ahead and believes that collectively, him and his team have not only the technique to rival the best in the world but also the passion and dedication.

“The momentum hasn’t stopped since the inception of this competition in 2011 and each year it gets bigger and better,” said Winder. “I’ve witnessed the competition transform from a Trans-Tasman event between us and the Aussies, to a Tri-Nations Challenge with the inclusion of the United Kingdom and now we’re facing eleven different countries. It’s pretty incredible to be a part of.”

Joining Corey are returning members Hannah Miller Childs, from A Lady Butcher in Auckland, and Greg Egerton, from Mad Butcher Dunedin. The three are joined by newcomers; Jeremy Garth from New World Ferry Road in Christchurch, Zak Grammer from New World Eastridge in Auckland and Hohepa Smith, who currently works in Australia but will be travelling back and forth to train with his team.

“As a team, we know an even harder job lies ahead if we want to walk away with that trophy,” said Winder. “But like any international squad, we’re doing it for New Zealand and we’re Kiwis – we know how to get the job done.”

The World Butchers’ Challenge showcases the highest level of skill in butchery and requires each team to break down a side of beef, pork, a whole lamb and five chickens into a themed display of value-added cuts all within a three-hour timeframe.

Last year’s competition was held on the Gold Coast in Australia, where first time competitors, France, took away the winning title.

The Pure South Sharp Blacks are still recognised as one of the toughest teams to beat however, after cementing the ultimate hat-trick with wins in 2013, 2014 and 2015.