Young bull riders from Yeppoon and Barcaldine will be joining the Queensland team for the PBR State of Origin II event in Tamworth this weekend, thanks to outstanding performances at the Toowoomba Invitational in early April.
They are 18-year-old Yeppoon local Ben Moran, and 21-year-old Jackson Gray from Barcaldine.
According to PBR Australia general manager Glen Young, while team captains were selected earlier in 2022, riders must earn their place on the team based on their performance at events during the PBR Monster Energy Tour.
"Courtesy of an 11th placing at his 2022 season debut in Toowoomba, Jackson has secured his first-ever opportunity to compete at PBR Origin this weekend, where he is currently ranked No 19 in the race for the 2022 PBR Australia championship," he said.
"Ben Moran delivered a career-best effort in Toowoomba to earn his chance to represent the Maroons when he covered Rip Slinger for 78.5 points.
"Both riders will join the talented Team Queensland roster this weekend, where they'll be eagerly helping the team defend its reigning championship title."
Modelled after the State of Origin rugby series, the state versus state bull riding showdown sees a 10-rider roster each represent Team New South Wales and Team Queensland.
Team Queensland is already dominating the dirt after surging to an early 1-0 lead in the first leg of the series in Newcastle last month.
Four-time PBR Australia champion and Team Queensland captain Aaron Kleier, said his team was eager to win the title for a third time in succession.
"It is a great privilege to put on this maroon jersey and have all the Queenslanders at home supporting you - we're doing it for them really," he said.
"Bull riding is such an individual sport, so when we get to do it as a team, especially to do it for Team Queensland, it just means a great deal.
"We just work good together as a team, have fun and get behind each other, you see us all there, all cheering for each other.
"We've kicked it off like we've kicked the other years off and hopefully just keep it on a roll and win the next two."
While the Blues fell short of the event win in Newcastle, team captain Cody Heffernan, seven-time PBR world finals qualifier Lachlan Richardson, and young gun Braith Nock were all dominant in the individual competition, finishing second, third and fourth, respectively.
Mr Heffernan is hoping to turn the tables on Team Queensland this weekend in Tamworth and even the playing field ahead of the last PBR Origin event in Brisbane on May 21.
"We just got to believe in ourselves. Those first couple of bulls, make sure we get some qualified rides, get the ball rolling early," he said. "Every ride counts for the spectators watching. We'll make Tamworth count."
This weekend's Origin event in Tamworth will be 'make or break' for the series outcome and has the potential to determine which team will take out the overall Origin series championship.
"The PBR Origins champion will be the team that wins two or more events in the series, and the event winner will be the team with the highest combined score in the event aggregate," Mr Young said.
"There is also up to $30,000 in prize money up for grabs this weekend in Tamworth and $40,000 on the line in Brisbane.
"The best rider of the series gets a $20,000 bonus and this year's Monster Energy PBR Australian champion will receive a $50,000 year-end bonus.
"The atmosphere in Tamworth is always electric, and we couldn't think of a better place to hold the second instalment of our PBR Monster Energy Origin Tournament."
TEAM NEW SOUTH WALES
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