BULL RIDING: Reigning Australian champion Cody Heffernan is riding high as he gears up for the Great Western Hotel PBR Challenge in Rockhampton tonight.
The champion bull rider flew back into the country this week, just days after competing in the PBR's Helldorado Days - Last Cowboy Standing in Las Vegas.
The New South Welshman made an impression during his latest American stint, winning the PBR Wichita Kansas Classic.
Not only did that earn him the 27-year-old a handy prize purse but it also bumped him up more than 10 places on the world rankings to number 40.
Not surprisingly then, Heffernan will arrive in Rockhampton armed with a high level of confidence and a steely resolve as he continues the quest to defend his national title.
He is currently sitting 17th on the PBR Australian standings but is still very much in the hunt, with six rounds to go.
A number of rookies, including Clermont's Aaron Kleier and Dysart's Sonny Schafferius, are sitting inside the top 10 and will be keen to press their claims in Rockhampton tonight.
But Heffernan, too, has plenty to ride for.
"A win this weekend would put me inside the top 10 in the Australian standings and move me up a few more spots in the world standings,” he said.
"Those young cowboys are riding really hot at the moment but I'm feeling very confident after that win in Wichita.
"With the Australian title race being so close there's more than enough points to still win it from the position I'm in.
"I'll have to have a dream run, do really well at these next events, but it's definitely possible.”
Heffernan, who first started riding calves when he was just five, said he found bull riding "very addictive”.
"It's hard to get it out of your system. Just the feeling of making something that's very hard look easy is a big thing for me,” he said.
"The nerves aren't there too much any more, I just get excited about making a good ride.
"I never tend to focus too much on the riders I'm up against. It's me versus the bull first and foremost - my competition is the bull and I've got to ride it for eight seconds before I even think about winning the event.”
While Heffernan appreciates the significance of his Wichita win, his Australian title is beyond compare.
"Wichita was just one event; the Australian title was a whole season,” he said.
"That was something I'd worked for since I was a kid and to finally accomplish that was - and still is - the biggest thing I've done in bull riding so far.”
The PBR bucks into action at 7pm today at the Western.
PBR AUSTRALIA STANDINGS
1. Braydon Wellby
2. Matt Triplett
3. Sonny Schafferius
4. Cliff Richardson
5. Troy Wilkinson
6. Jason Mara
7. Aaron Kleier
8. Budd Williamson
9. Mitch Paton
10. Rohan Markhan
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