Melton bowler Chris Rodgers through to EIBA national finals

Chris Rodgers represents Leicester IBC at last year's national finals EMN-150303-174914002

Chris Rodgers represents Leicester IBC at last year's national finals EMN-150303-174914002

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Rodgers and skip Les Gillett have qualified for the last 32 of the pairs at the EIBA National Indoor Bowls Championships which start at Melton IBC on April 3.

The pair returned to the Melton club last autumn after a five-year spell with Leicester and are determined to atone for previous near-misses.

They twice reached the national pairs semi-finals while wearing the badge of Melton. Gillett, who is closing on a return to the world top 16, did win the title in 2004, but with a different partner.

Rodgers said: “It’s been a few years since we qualified in the pairs and I’m really looking forward to it.

“I never look at who we are playing. I wouldn’t say there is anyone we would look to avoid.

“The ability is there to win it if we play to our potential. The only reason I’m going is to win.”

They also narrowly missed out on a place in the national triples finals after they were beaten by two shots in the inter-area final.

But they could yet be involved on two fronts at the championships.

Victory against Lincolnshire in Boston this weekend would see them reach the Liberty Trophy final with Leicestershire alongside clubmates Neil Hope and Steve Wade.

The match to decide the English county champions is the biggest final of the 10-day long event and provides the traditional climax to the championships.

Rodgers believes victory would be a fitting way to cap Melton IBC member Arthur Broadberry’s year as EIBA national president.

It would also be a pertinent tribute to his grandfather John Wiles, a key player in the club’s foundations, who introduced him to the sport as a seven-year-old. Rodgers has been a member of the club ever since.

He added: “Grandad was going to be county president just before he passed away and Arthur took on his mantle.

“I think Arthur was county president when we won the national title at under 25s at Melton. Maybe that’s an omen.

“If we could do something in the Liberty Trophy, with Arthur as president, it would be brilliant.”

Few greeted the return of the national championships to Melton last year with greater enthusiasm than Rodgers.

He was there representing Leicester last April in the triples and fours, but had already decided that he must return to where his heart belonged.

“It was great to be back playing the nationals at Melton and to come back now representing Melton means a lot to me,” he said. “I’m fully focussed on what I’m doing.

“There is nothing like having a chance to succeed at your home club. It holds a lot of history for me.”