State bucks the competition
AS STATE of Origin fever descends, Queenslanders can already rejoice as they have taken out the winner's title at the first ever Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Origin sell-out event held in NSW - with two riders from Clermont putting in top efforts.
Local riders Aaron Kleier - Queensland team captain - and Brady Fielder said the inaugural event, at Darling Harbour ICC theatre, pitched Origin squads made up of nine riders on each team against each other.
There were also four international wildcards that included two Mexican champions and two Brazilian champions on each side.
Kleier, the 2018 Australian Champion who won the PBR Grand Finals in Townsville, said the camaraderie of competitors on the night added to an overall atmosphere of excitement.
Kleier, 21, said the Queensland team entered the contest as the underdogs which made winning "even better”.
"I tried not to treat it any differently, but it was a bit more fun and there was more banter because we were on a team.
"It's still an individual sport but being part of a team made it a bit different.
"There's nothing really like this in bull riding so it showed a different side of the sport for the crowds.”
Kleier, who practises at least once a week, said he was now set for PBR events over the next few weekends in Brisbane, Cairns and Mt Isa as the professional bull riding season passed its halfway mark.
"My dad's a bull contractor so I started riding as a young child.
"I don't really get scared but there's always a little bit of nerves.
"You can put a bit too much pressure on yourself though.”
He said the best tactic when competing was to "just chill out and relax and don't think about it”.
For number four ranked Australian Pro Bull Rider, 19-year-old Fielder, the event provided another opportunity to work alongside world-class bull riders after competing at the Pro Bull Riders Global Cup in America.
"It was a real good event really, and even better that it was as a team because you're not only riding for yourself but you're riding for Queensland.
"I think the crowd would have loved it and it was a great atmosphere even though we were on NSW home ground.
"I like doing PBR events - they're always good shows.”
On the night, Queensland tallied a combined total score of 682.5 from eight qualified rides, well ahead of Team NSW's total of 428.5 from five qualified rides.
The Team Queensland charge was led by rider Mitch Paton (Nebo) who took out dual cowboy of the event honours with NSW's Nathan Burtenshaw (Coonamble). Paton went a perfect 2-for-2 on the night to add 173 points to the maroon's total.
Paton was followed closely by Atherton teammate Kurt Shephard, who logged 172.5 points for QLD, Brady Fielder (Clermont) who scored 169.5 points, and 2018 PBR Australia Champion Aaron Kleier (Clermont) who notched 167.5 points. Kleier turned up the heat with an 86-point ride on Rock the House in the Championship Round.
PBR Australia general manager Glen Young said this week, "The maroons underscored themselves as Australia's bull riding powerhouses by taking out the first ever PBR Origin.
"The battles were fierce, the rides were electric, and the crowds were on the edge of their seat right until the very last second.”