By HARRY CLARKE
TWO of Australian’s finest bull riders have been named captains of the Queensland and New South Wales teams for the 2022 PBR Origin series.
Queensland will be captained by four time PBR Australia Champion Aaron Kleier while the 2016 national champ, Cody Heffernan, will take up the position for New South Wales.
Kleier, who steered the maroon team to victory in 2021, said he was determined to lead Queensland to a third straight series win when the tournament begins at Newcastle later this month.
“I am looking forward to riding as a team with the Queensland boys and representing our state with them. Putting on that maroon jersey is truly an honour,” Kleier said.
“With bull riding being such an individual sport, it is good to get the chance to ride together as a team. It just has an exciting and different feel to any other event.”
The three-rodeo PBR Origin series will begin at Newcastle on March 26, followed by Tamworth on April 23 and Brisbane on May 21.
The series was launched in 2019 and the second event was held in 2021.
Heffernan, who experienced NSW’s demise to the hands of Queensland in both series, said he was hoping the home state advantage in the first round would help give NSW an early series lead in 2022.
“It’s an absolute honour to be selected as captain and lead the charge with the boys,” Heffernan said.
“I am looking forward to the atmosphere the Origin events create. We rarely get to ride in a team format, and there’s no better team competition in Australia than New South Wales vs. Queensland.”
PBR Australia General Manager Glen Young said the series would play a crucial role in determining who will qualify for the Monster Energy PBR Australia Grand Finals occurring in Townsville in November.
The grand final is the richest bull riding event in the southern hemisphere.
“There is up to $30,000 in prize money up for grabs at the first two Origin events and $40,000 on the line in Brisbane,” Young said.
“The best rider of the series gets a $20,000 bonus and this year’s Monster Energy PBR Australian Champion will receive a $50,000 year-end bonus.
“We’re looking forward to the series kicking off in Newcastle in just over two weeks and seeing which team will take out the first event win.”