Hoping to defend their home dirt, The New South Wales team will be captained by the 2017 PBR Australian National Champion Troy Wilkinson (Upper Horton, NSW). The 28-year-old has spent the first six months of the 2019 season campaign at home and finds himself ranked 6th in the PBR Australian National Standings. Wilkinson has covered over 50% of his bulls recording seven top-10 finishes from 10 events.
Current PBR Australia No. 1 and 2016 Aussie Champion Cody Heffernan (Singleton, NSW) headlines the supporting cast of qualifiers. Since representing Australia in the 2019 PBR Global Cup in Texas, Heffernan has gone on a tear, winning four events from eight starts, with a further two third-place finishes. The 29-year-old is currently ranked 35th in the PBR World Standings.
Adding even more big-time experience to the Blues lineup will be Team Australia’s Global Cup Captain Cliff Richardson (Gresford, NSW). Entering the weekend ranked 5th in PBR Australia, the 28-year-old picked up a buckle for his win earlier this season in Shepparton. Richardson also added a third-place finish in Traralgon and has ridden 50% of his bulls so far in 2019 to find himself ranked 41st in the PBR World Standings.
After picking up his maiden Monster Energy Tour event win in Traralgon back in March, Justin Robards (Bulahdelah, NSW) qualifies for the New South Wales team courtesy of his 8th place raking on the PBR Australian National Standings Leaderboard. The 27-year-old has covered three of his last six bulls and added a fourth-place finish at last month’s Royal Easter Show in Sydney.
PBR Australia riders from outside of New South Wales and Queensland were also allowed to qualify for the Monster Energy PBR Origin by nominating the state for which they would like to be eligible.
The first of those who nominated for the Blues was Will Purcell (Merrijig, VIC). The 25-year-old picked up his first win on tour since 2017 at the Dirt N Dust Festival at Julia Creek in April. Purcell also finished fourth in the shootout on Easter Monday at the Royal Easter Show PBR and is ranked 12th in the Aussie Standings.
Ethan Watts (Tamworth, NSW) put together some excellent early season results with his best finish coming at Traralgon, where he finished runner-up to Robards. The 27-year-old is riding at 33% for the season and holds down the 14th spot on the PBR Australian National Standings leaderboard.
With three top-10 finishes to his name, Lachlan Slade (Tamworth, NSW) finds himself ranked 16th in the Australian Standings. The 25-year-old spent much of 2018 putting together consistent results overseas in Canada and is a much more talented rider than his 2019 success rate of 25% indicates.
After qualifying for the 2018 PBR World Finals in Las Vegas, Nathan Burtenshaw (Coonamble, NSW) kicked off his 2019 season with a fifth-place finish in Melbourne. The 25-year-old returned to the USA in January to compete on the PBR’s premier Unleash the Beast tour. He, unfortunately, rebroke his collarbone after just a few events. Burtenshaw has three quick buck-offs to his name since returning to competition, but he thrives on the team format and won’t stay down for too long.
Sam Woodall (Heywood, VIC) is the second of the Victorian cowboys who qualified to represent the Blues. Despite his limited experience at this level, the 21-year-old has put some high scoring rides together in the past with his best result this season coming at in Marrabel. Woodall is ranked just outside the top-25 on the PBR Australian National Standings leaderboard.
Joining the New South Wales team will be the international pairing of Gustavo Pedrero (Mexico) and Robinson Guedes (Brazil).
32-year-old Pedrero returns to Australia after kicking off his 2019 campaign in the USA and Mexico while Guedes, 30-year-old, has been competing in Australia since February and is ranked 22nd on the Australian standings.
Daniel Rogan (Tamworth, NSW) and Oscar Leake (Dungog, NSW) will act as the team’s alternate riders.