2016 PBR Australian National Champion Cody Heffernan will make his highly-anticipated return to the Monster Energy Tour this weekend in Newcastle.
The 29-year-old has been absent from PBR Australia competition over the past two months as he continues his recovery from the multiple injuries he sustained in Rockhampton back in May.
Heffernan sustained a concussion and injured his left knee in the wreck after being flung to the ground during his Championship Round matchup with Dunne Bulls’ Rock The House.
“I’ve never really had a serious injury, but this is the most serious injury that I’ve ever had,” said Heffernan.
“But the way I look at it is that everybody is going to go through a serious injury, I’m no different.”
“You’re going to go through these types of deals.”
Just two weeks later, Heffernan represented New South Wales in the inaugural PBR Origin event in Sydney. While he was free of symptoms from his concussion, he was still battling several torn ligaments in his left knee.
“Deep down, I knew I probably shouldn’t be getting on, but I definitely felt I should give it a try anyway. The last thing you want to do is use it as an excuse.”
After the bucking off, Heffernan scrambled his way to the fence, unable to put any weight on his left leg. As he attempted to climb the fence, he knew that he was only doing further damage to his knee and decided to withdraw from the event and begin his recovery.
Heffernan has spent the past eight weeks rehabbing and has resumed jogging and his regular gym workouts.
“I am getting on a bull on Monday. that will be the biggest test, but I have been riding horses bareback and also spending time on the drop barrel, and it all feels good.”
When he climbs into the bucking chutes on Saturday night, his knee may not be 100%, but Heffernan is confident that it will withstand the rigours of a Monster Energy Tour event.
“I will strap it up, use a brace and hopefully it will be good.”
Heffernan has recorded three top-6 finishes from his last four starts at the Newcastle Invitational, which serves as his home event. Aside from the strapping tape and brace, he will also be riding with the support of his sponsors Haynes Group, MX Bull Ropes and Active Embroidery in Singleton.
Leading up to his injury, Heffernan was the hottest bull rider in the country. He had won four PBR Australia events and added a further two top-3 finishes during a remarkable seven-event stretch beginning at the Bendigo Invitational.
He was ranked number one in the Australian National Standings and held a lead of 582.5 points. But in his absence, Aaron Kleier has recorded two event wins and a further two top-5 finishes to surpass Heffernan’s 2237.5 total.
Kleier, the defending PBR Australia Champion, now leads Heffernan, who sits 2nd, by 842.5 points with nine events remaining before the PBR Australia Grand Finals in November.
Despite missing the increased championship points and prize money on offer throughout June, the Singleton Bull Rider remains well in contention for a second PBR Australia Gold Buckle.
“With Aaron [Kleier], the Richardson’s [Cliff and Lachlan], [Troy] Wilkinson and [Brady] Fielder all riding well, this year will be a pretty special year to win the Australia Title”.
“I’m not too stressed about it at the moment. All that matters is I have the buckle in my hands on the final night of the Finals.”
He has also not ruled out a return to the USA, and the PBR’s Premier Unleash the Beast tour should the opportunity present itself.
Heffernan is also aiming to carry his remarkable consistency through to the second half of the season and qualify for November’s 2019 PBR World Standings in Las Vegas.
“I really thought I’d drop down lower in the World Standings, so that surprised me that I’ve stayed pretty close to 35th which gives me a really big boost,” said Heffernan.
The top-35 bull riders automatically qualify for the PBR World Finals, with Heffernan currently ranked 36th, just 62.5 points south of the cut line.
Heffernan experienced the incredible atmosphere of Las Vegas and T-Mobile Arena as an alternate rider when he competed in the final rounds of the 2016 Finals.
“If you look at those stats on the PBR website, I’ve only done 15 events so compared to all the other guys they’ve done 20 or 30 events”.
“I make each event count,” he added.
“I feel fit. I feel fine. I feel like I can ride as good as I ever have”.