The 2022 PBR Origin series gets underway in the Steel City tonight, with the top-10 bull riders from Queensland and New South Wales not only be facing off against each other, but they will also be taking on some of the rankest bucking bulls in the country.
After a slow start to the year, I think we can expect the cowboys to improve their riding percentage back up towards the 30% mark here in Newcastle. They would have gained more information about some of the newer bulls on tour last weekend at Mildura, and that familiarity should result in a shootout between the teams.
Here are the matchups I am looking forward to seeing:
Round 1 Matchups
Aaron Kleier (QLD) on 6143 Hearing Voices (TnR Bucking Bulls)
The Clermont cowboy has recorded six rides from nine attempts in the Origin format, and he is 2-for-3 in the Bonus Rounds. He makes his season debut here, but I think this looks like a nice matchup to get his year started. Hearing Voices has bucked off a couple of rookie riders to begin his career with bull scores of 41.5 and 42-points. He has been turning back to the right, not too far from the chute. That puts him away from Kleier’s hand, but the Queensland captain will be aiming to get his team off to a positive start.
Thomas Hudson (NSW) on 833 Born For This (TnR Bucking Bulls)
Hudson has looked pretty good on the back of the bulls he has faced this season but hasn’t been putting scores on the board. This matchup seems like a nice opportunity for him to record a qualified ride with Born For This expected to turn back into his riding hand. This bull was quite impressive in his debut trip at Mildura last week, kicking hard and posting 42.5 points. If the Dungog talent can stick with him early, he should set himself up to post a handy score.
Qynn Andersen (QLD) on 864 Night Fury (ST Bucking Bulls)
Night Fury has been ridden once so far in his three trip PBR career, and that was on New Year’s Eve at Rockhampton by Kurt Shephard for 82.5 points and a round win. This bull has bucked from the left chutes in his previous trips, but tonight we will see him buck from the right-side delivery. He has shown us that he can turn back in either direction, but his best bull score came when he turned back to the left. So, I think the switch will only make him better. Andersen rode well in Mildura to finish second. This bull’s tempo looks good, so I believe the Koumala young-gun will be able to make this work away from his hand in his Origin debut.
Trefor Sproule (NSW) on 903 No Deal (ST Bucking Bulls)
The Singleton bull rider was a slap away from posting a good score in the opening round last week at Mildura. That would have provided an excellent backup for his fifth-place finish at Scone back in February, but he can bounce back here against No Deal. This bull has had just one trip so far in PBR competition, and that was at Rockhampton late last season. He turned back to the left on that occasion, but I don’t think he appeared too complicated. Opportunities like this one can win a team an Origin match, and I don’t think Sproule will be too far away from reaching the whistle.
Brumby Brandenburg (QLD) on 657 Life Plus 20 (TnR Bucking Bulls)
Brandenburg will have his tail up after picking up his maiden event win last weekend in Mildura, and that confidence should carry over into his first matchup. Life Plus 20 debuted at the event in Scone, where he posted 41-points in 5.13 seconds of work after entering a clockwise spin. A repeat of that performance will put him away from the Bloomsbury talent’s riding hand, but the belief gained with his victory will get him a long way into the matchup.
Caiden Sandilands (QLD) on 35 Buck (Diamond S Bucking Bulls)
Buck has been around for a while now, and riders have ridden him fairly consistently for scores in the low 80-point range. The last time we saw this bull on tour was at Wodonga back in 2019, where Aaron Kleier became the third leftie to pick up a score. Sandilands has let some favourable opportunities slip by at recent events, but his team will need him to convert this one into a score. This bull likes to look to the right before turning back to the left and into the Rockhampton cowboy’s hand.
Round 2 Matchups
Cody Heffernan (NSW) on 264 Call Me Joe (TnR Bucking Bulls)
These two PBR Australia veterans have done battle three times previously on tour, and the NSW captain has come away with a score on each occasion. They combined for 89-points at Shepparton and Dubbo in 2018 and were 88-points in Sydney at the Easter Show in 2019. Call Me Joe still churns out honest trips, and good scores are still possible, as we saw when Aaron Kleier was marked 88-points at Rockhampton in May last year. Heffernan would have been disappointed to be shut out last week in Mildura, but this matchup would have put a smile on his face when the daysheet was released.
Jake Curr (QLD) on 964 Thor (ST Bucking Bulls)
Curr was good at the Grand Finals last year, and he was good in his season debut at Scone where he finished in fourth place with an 86-point score. Here he faces Thor, who was ridden in his only trip at this level by Joshua Jones for 83-points at Rockhampton in November. The bull looked to the left before turning back to the right. If that trend continues, this will be another one of those 50/50 rides that could gain a team an Origin win, and I’m backing the Mount Isa talent away from his hand.
Lane Mellers (QLD) on 303 Shotgun (ST Bucking Bulls)
The Mundubbera bull rider has an excellent record in Origin competition, riding three of his five bulls faced in the 2021 series. Here he meets Shotgun for the second time in the PBR, with the bull winning their matchup at Tamworth during Mellers’ rookie year in 2018. The last time we saw this bull ridden was at Caboolture last year, where Beau Willis won a round on his way to picking up the buckle. From the left chutes, this bull tends to prefer a right-handed spin. Mellers hasn’t been at his best over the last six months or so, but he has had a good rest in the lead up to this event, and Queensland will need him to show up here.
Steven Carter (NSW) on 93 Meet Ya Maker (MJ and Keilher Bucking Bulls)
Carter probably couldn’t have asked for a better draw here in the second round of his Origin Debut. He will take on Meet Ya Maker, who has been ridden five times from thirteen trips with the average score marked at 83.60 points. The bull has pretty good tempo, and we see many riders get deep into the clock, with the average buck off time sitting at 5.97-seconds. Left-handers seem to have a slight advantage, as the bull starts with a right-handed spin and reverses to the left at the mid-point of the ride. If the Ward’s River rookie can handle the change of direction, he should be able to finish the ride strong.
Lachlan Richardson (NSW) on -551 Spokane (TnR Bucking Bulls)
We have seen a few uncharacteristic buck offs from Richardson so far this season, but I think Spokane will give him a great chance to post a score in front of his home crowd. He has now bucked off six straight bulls in PBR Australia competition, and that is something that we have not seen since mid-2019 and before that at the end of 2015. These two met up twice during the 2019 season, combining for 81.5 points at Shepparton, but the bull won in 6.17 seconds at Wodonga. The bull still prefers a right-handed spin, and the Gresford talent doesn’t stay down for long, so another qualified ride looks to be on the cards.
Lachlan Slade (NSW) on 8 Volatile (Maynes Bucking Bulls)
During last year’s PBR Origin series, Slade was on fire, covering four of his six bulls to pick up three round wins and the coveted Cowboy Of Origin award. Volatile has been ridden in around 33% of his performances for an average score of 86-points. Four of those five qualified rides have resulted in a round winning score, but the majority have gone the way of left-handed riders. These two faced off at Scone, but the ride was over before it began, so the Tamworth cowboy will be itching for a re-match. The bull prefers an anti-clockwise spin, but he can look right on some occasions, so Slade appears as though he will have his work cut out riding away from his hand to get this bull covered.