Team Australia has opted for a mix of youth and experience in a bid to be the first team to defend their home dirt and retain the Aussie horn of the PBR Global Cup trophy in Sydney this weekend. With the home field advantage allowing a 14-man roster, the Australian Team have made several changes to their core squad that went 7-for-18 in the inaugural event in Edmonton last November and added the current Australian number 2 ranked rider, a 13-year PBR Veteran and an 18-year-old young gun to their roster.
Taking control of the Aussie team will be Australian Bullriding Legend Troy Dunn (Sarina, QLD). Dunn is Australia’s only PBR World Champion, finishing the 1998 season as the best in the world. Dunn also won the 1995 and 1997 PBR World Finals event in Las Vegas and is a recipient of the PBR’s Ring of Honour. The 50-year-old replaces three-time PBR World Champion, Brazilian Adriano Moraes, who did a fantastic job with the team at the Canadian Event.
Lachlan Richardson (Gresford, NSW) – World Ranking: 67th. Following his 4th place finish at the inaugural PBR Global Cup in Edmonton, Richardson finished second at PBR Australia’s Iron Cowboy in Townsville, QLD before returning to the USA to begin the 2018 Season on the 25th PBR: Unleash the Beast series. The six-time PBR World Finals qualifier went 0-for-12 through the first five events of the season and was forced to return to the PBR’s minor leagues. Richardson looks to be regaining some form after his slow start to the year with a 3rd place finish this past weekend at the Cairns Invitational. In May, the 25-year-old also added a 2nd placing at Prince Albert, SK going 2-for-4 across the weekend and backed that up with a 3rd place finish in PBR Canada’s Iron Cowboy.
Aaron Kleier (Clermont, QLD) – World Ranking: 43rd. The 2017 PBR Australia Rookie of the Year has two event wins and nine Top 5 finishes so far in the 2018 PBR season with a riding percentage of over 59%. The 20-year-old returned to Australia after going 1-from-2 in Edmonton at the inaugural PBR Global Cup and produced winning performances at PBR Australia’s Iron Cowboy in Townsville, QLD and at at the Blue Moon Charity Bull Ride in Kempsey, NSW. In the extended 2018 PBR Season, Kleier has recorded five event wins and added seventeen Top 5 finishes from just 26 events to sit atop the Australian National Standings. Kleier returned from a month off with a groin injury to finish in 11th place with a 1-for-2 effort at the Cairns Invitational this past weekend.
Troy Wilkinson (Upper Horton, NSW) – World Ranking: 60th. 2018 has been a tough year for the reigning PBR Australia Champion who has been grinding it out in the USA and competing at all levels of PBR competition. Wilkinson has been riding at just below 28% for the season recording Top 5 finishes at 4 events on the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity and Touring Pro Division tours to find himself within striking distance of re-qualifying for the 25th PBR: Unleash the Beast series. Wilkinson finished a confidence-building 5th in Cairns with a 2-for-3 result and will be looking to improve on his PBR Global Cup riding record after going 0-for-2 in Edmonton.
Nathan Burtenshaw (Coonamble, NSW) – World Ranking: 25th. Burtenshaw made his return from a broken collarbone at the Cairns Invitational on Saturday with a solid 3rd place finish. Burtenshaw is the best placed Australian on the PBR World Standings in 25th place after covering 45.65% of his bulls for 2018. The 23-year-old will be hoping to regain the form that saw him finish in the points at four of his last five events on the 25th PBR Unleash the Beast Tour in the USA. Burtenshaw had a disappointing debut PBR Global Cup event in Edmonton going 0-for-1 after bucking off Set ’em up Joe (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/H&C Bucking Bulls) in Round 1 but will be one of Australia’s main strike weapons heading into the Sydney event.
Cody Heffernan (Singleton, NSW) – World Ranking: 39th. The 2016 PBR Australia Champion will make his PBR Global Cup debut in Sydney following a strong start to the 2018 PBR Season. The 28-year-old took out the Adelaide Invitational back in December and strung together some very good results on the Victorian leg of the PBR Monster Energy tour. Heffernan took home first and second placings from the Shepparton Invitational and backed that up with a third placing in Wodonga. After spending a disappointing month on the 25th PBR: Unleash the Beast tour in the USA where he went 0-for-7, Heffernan returned to home soil finishing 2nd at the PBR Australia event in Rockhampton, QLD.
Cliff Richardson (Gresford, NSW) – World Ranking: 52nd. The 27-year-old has finished in the Top 5 at four of his last five events and will be looking to hold that form into the PBR Global Cup Sydney after being one of Team Australia’s best performers at the Inaugural PBR Global Cup in Canada last year. Richardson finished the Edmonton event in 8th place with a 2-for-3 record after covering Tykro Checkered Flag (Wild Hoggs Bucking Bulls) for 86.25 points in Round 1 and Blue Gangster (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve for 85.25 points in Round 3. Richardson has recorded qualified rides on 11 of his last 17 bulls and currently sits 3rd in the Australian National Standings.
Fraser Babbington (Gisborne, NZ) – World Ranking: 35th. The Kiwi has spent the year on the PBR Australia Monster Energy tour chasing his second Australian Championship. Babbington is riding at over 60% for the current season with wins in five wins and ten Top 5’s so far in the extended PBR Australia Season. After riding 8 straight bulls, Babbington has gone 1-for-5 in his last three events, including a disappointing 13th place finish in the Cairns Invitational. The 2015 PBR Australia Champion will head into his debut PBR Global Cup event hungry to once again, prove himself on the world stage.
Bailey Woodard (Dingo, QLD) – World Ranking: 73rd. 19-year-old has been riding at 25% at Australian PBR events so far this year. Woodard came away with the event win at the Rockin Rocky New Years Eve PBR at Rockhampton with an 85.0 point ride on Itchy Scratchy (Brian King) and currently sits in 9th place on the Australian National Standings. Woodard finished third at the Melbourne Invitational in December and added Top 5 finishes at the Iron Cowboy in Townsville, QLD and the Monster Energy tour event in Wodonga, VIC.
Bradie Gray (Tamworth, NSW) – World Ranking: 212th. Gray returns to ride in Australia for the first time since 2016 where he took out the Rural Weekly Live event in Grafton, NSW. The 21-year-old is slowly making his return to competitive riding after suffering life-threatening injuries last year at the College National Finals Rodeo in Wyoming last year. Gray has gone 1-for-4 since resuming on the PBR’s Real Time Pain Relief Velocity tour at Roanoke, VA back in April.
Budd Williamson (Ayr, QLD) – World Ranking: 96th. Williamson currently sits in the 8th spot on the PBR Australia Standings courtesy of seen Top 10 finishes with his only win coming at Innisfail, QLD back in October. Williamson finished in second place at the Mt Cotton, QLD event on the PBR Australia Monster Energy tour and will be hoping to carry that form into his debut PBR Global Cup event. The 31-year-old veteran is in his 13th season with the PBR and has spent time competing in the USA and Canada throughout his career with 16 event wins and 128 Top 10 finishes in PBR competitions worldwide.
Ethan Watts (Tamworth, NSW) – World Ranking: 113th. Ethan Watts has been riding well in 2018, recording 7 qualified rides from his last 11 outs. The 26-year-old currently sits 11th in the Australian National Standings thanks to four straight Top 10 finishes leading into the Cairns Invitational where he was 1-for-2. Watts’ highest scoring ride for the year came on the back of Stealth (George Hempenstall) in the Championship Round at the Shepparton Invitational, scoring 87.5 points.
Justin Paton (Nebo, QLD) – World Ranking: 44th. The 26-year-old currently sits 5th in the PBR Australia National Standings courtesy of back-to-back wins at the Wodonga Invitational and the Dirt N Dust Festival PBR in Julia Creek, QLD back in April. Paton has ridden close to 60% of his bulls for the year and added another Top 10 finish with a 9th place result at the Cairns Invitational to make it ten Top-5 finishes for the year and he currently sits 44th in the PBR World Standings.
Jason Mara (Cloncurry, QLD) – World Ranking: 41st. There is no one hotter in Australia Bullriding than Jason Mara. The Cloncurry, QLD cowboy has recorded back-to-back-to-back event wins going 6-for-7 over the past month to win the Mt Cotton Invitational, the Great Western Beef Australia PBR in Rockhampton and the Cairns Invitational. Despite only competing in 10 events so far on the 2018 PBR Australia Season, Mara sits in 6th spot on the Australian National Standings and 41st in the PBR World Standings.
Ky Hamilton (Mackay, QLD) – World Ranking: N/A. Hamilton will join the Australia Team after riding 41.7% of his bulls at PBR Australia events this year. The 18-year-old has been winning bull riding events all over the country in his first year as an open rider with wins in Bundaberg, QLD and Moranbah, QLD this past weekend.
Mitchel Paton (Nebo, QLD) – World Ranking: 137th. Paton has been added to Team Australia by Coach Dunn as an alternate. The 27-year-old is on his way back after missing nine months recovering from shoulder surgery. Paton will join Team Australia in good form after recording four Top 10 finishes at PBR Australia events since his return while riding at 40%.