INCREDIBLE FOOTAGE: Bull tosses rodeo clowns in PBR dust up
RODEO: Rodeo clowns, protection athletes, they go by many names. But there is no doubting that they are among the unsung heroes bracing the brunt of rodeos' toughest bulls.
At Saturday night's Professional Bull Riders Monster Energy Tour: Rockhampton Invitational at Browne Park, Gracemere's Clint Kelly and New South Wales' Geoff Hall formed the Bullzye Protection Team.
Their job? To spring into action the second a bull rider is bucked from their bull and defend the rider from injury by diverting the bull's attention onto themselves.
Despite a number of hits and tosses in the air, Kelly, 25, was back to work yesterday morning, with no more than a couple of bumps and bruises.
Hall seemed in dire straits when a bull stood on the back of his head, taking off some skin and hair, but still recovered just the same.
To Kelly, the focus on taking care of the riders is what keeps them running selflessly into the face of danger.
"We're not so worried about us. We're there to make sure the rider can get up and out safely," he said.
"That keeps us going more than the adrenaline."
Kelly said Saturday night's PBR was one of the "rougher nights" he'd come across in his career.
"It's the luck of the draw on the day," Kelly said.
"We got flicked around and I got thrown in the air a few times. One bull who isn't known for being the angriest, flicked me in the air and flicked me again.
"I was an easy target and it tracked me down. Bulls can run faster than any man and he straightened me out and got me.
"We don't get into situations we can't handle. We have good fun through the night and even with all the thrills and spills and being stood on, we still try to have a joke and have fun."
Kelly's family has been involved in rodeos for three generations, and with his ample experience of the industry, he has learned a thing or two about gauging certain characteristics of some bulls.
"We try to treat them all the same. There's fundamentals we try to stick with," he said.
"But if we know them and have some inside common knowledge about what they commonly do or their temperament, we'll give the other person a heads up."
PBR Competition Director Dianne Hallam said the Protection Team proved "without a doubt" their importance in rodeos.
"To cop the hits that they copped and still walk out of the arena with a smile on their faces is just inspiring," Hallam said.
"They are just really nice young guys. They just go quietly about their business.
"We regard our Protection Athletes to be the best in the country and if anyone had doubts about that, they put them to rest Saturday night."