Taj Retirement Shakes Up CT Roster

Taj Burrow at the 2015 Fiji Pro opening ceremony. Taj Burrow will be soaking it all in in Fiji this year. - WSL / Kirstin

With Taj Burrow's recent announcement that he's calling it a career after 18 full years on tour, we're now learning how this move will impact the rest of the CT field.

Burrow worked on the details of his plans with Commissioner Kieren Perrow in Margaret River. With the update to Burrow's announcement, the WSL Commissioner's Office have decided to allocate the Western Australian a wildcard into June's WSL Fiji Pro. Burrow will stay in Western Australia with his family in the near term, while his mates prepare a proper sendoff for him in Fiji.

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Taj's retirement means Adam Melling has secured a CT spot for the remainder of the 2016 season. Meanwhile, Stu Kennedy and Sebastian Zietz have moved up to the No. 1 and No. 2 injury replacement surfers respectively. Kennedy is already ranked 12th after on the back of his strong Gold Coast performance. Zietz, meanwhile, has rocketed to No. 2 on the Jeep Leaderboard rankings after his stunning win at Margaret River.

"Taj is always epic to watch at Cloudbreak and Restaurants and we look forward to seeing him unleash his brand of surfing out there one more time before he hangs up the singlet for good," Kieren Perrow, WSL Commissioner, said.

Today's announcement means that Adam Melling, as first replacement surfer, has formally secured a CT spot for the remainder of the 2016 season.

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Meanwhile, Stu Kennedy and Sebastian Zietz, current No. 12 and 2 respectively on the WSL Jeep Leaderboard, have advanced into the first and second replacement positions for the season, likely earning them more starts at the elite level. Given the duo's performances already this year, the potential for more starts allows both surfers the opportunity to qualify for next season's elite tour via CT results alone, provided they finish in the Top 22 by year's end.

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According to Perrow, Kennedy and Zietz are already locks for Brazil, Fiji, and Jeffrey's Bay. "Owen Wright has already pulled out of all three events, and Bede Durbidge has pulled out of the first two, but even if he's back in time for J-Bay, Zietz will get one of the wildcard spots there based on his performances this year, which we're very excited about."

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Obviously, injury replacements who prove themselves at the CT level are going to be given every opportunity to keep it going. To that end the current QS leader, 18-year old Italian Leonardo Fioravante, who knocked out Kelly Slater and Adriano de Souza at Margaret River surfing as a replacement surfer, will be joining the CT ranks again in Rio. "We're very happy to give Leo the spot after his performance at Margaret River," says Perrow.