EDMONTON – Long before Adriano Moraes was a three-time World Champion and one of the greatest bull riders in PBR history, Moraes was an underdog from Brazil who was alone in a foreign country and unable to speak a lick of English.
Twenty-four years later and Moraes is hoping to inspire Team Australia to understand that even if others view them as underdogs for the inaugural PBR Global Cup that there is no reason they cannot shock the world and claim the prestigious Global Cup Trophy at Rogers Place.
“I believe my barrier was much greater than their barriers (at Global Cup),” said Moraes, who is serving as the head coach for Team Australia this weekend. “I focused on my riding only. If you do good, the results will shut everybody else up. When you are good, you have no barriers.”
Moraes was the PBR’s first Brazilian bull rider and inaugural World Champion. His success inspired generations of Brazilian bull riders to follow in his footsteps to the United States. This year, 188 Brazilian-born riders finished the season ranked in the world standings.
Now Moraes has a new challenge this weekend as he tries to coach and inspire seven riders from Australia to victory at the PBR Global Cup.
“First of all, I am really, really proud and honored to be invited because I didn’t expect it,” Moraes said. “When I got invited, I really got excited because with their riding ability, which I see they have. Hopefully I can help them with my mind game and mentality.
“I believe they can be a surprise to everybody.”
Competing for Team Australia on Friday night is Troy Wilkinson, Kurt Shephard, Aaron Kleier, Lachlan Richardson, Sonny Schafferius, Nathan Burtenshaw, Cliff Richardson and Roy Dunn (Alternate).
Moraes also was quick to say he wasn’t disappointed about not being named the coach of Team Brazil.
“No. I expected that because they are not my kids anymore,” he said. “Even though the majority of them passed through us down there, but they have all of their mentors here.”
Moraes with his loud and charismatic personality brought the Australians on the back of the bucking chutes Thursday night during the PBR Monster Energy Team Canada qualifier.
The 47-year-old coach joked, ‘If I could take the trophy home now. I would.”
Confidence will not be a problem when it comes to Moraes.
He just hopes he can create a close-knit team with only a few days together in Edmonton.
“Their strength is as individuals, but I see talents,” Moraes said. “I feel they are lone wolfs. I don’t see them as a pack. The Brazilians are a pack. The Americans are a pack.”
Lachlan Richardson, a six-time qualifier for the World Finals, agreed that the Australians are a little bit less of a pack than the Brazilians because they all have been competing at different levels of competition, some of which have been in different countries.
“Yeah, we can (be closer),” Richardson said. “It is hard when three or four of our members live in Australia. It is not like there can be 15 of us traveling around like the Brazilians. If every one of us were over here, I am sure we could. The few people that are here know different people and they stay with them. The Brazilians all kind of stick to the one set of apartments and (Decatur).
“We haven’t gotten that far yet. We definitely can stick together more. We are gelling pretty good though.”
The Australians went out to dinner on Wednesday night and spent a few hours going over bulls with Moraes.
At the Global Cup, it is up to the coaches to select which bulls their riders will get on.
The team with the highest aggregate score on 14 bulls will be the event winner of the Global Cup.
“They can all ride really good,” Richardson said. “I expect us to do good.”
One of the riders that will be worth watching Friday night is Aaron Kleier.
The 19-year-old finished 37th in the world standings and had chosen not to compete at the World Finals last week in Las Vegas because he and his father felt he wasn’t ready yet for the caliber of bulls that were awaiting him.
Kleier, who rode 54.55 percent of his bulls in Australia, will have his hands full against Boot Jack in Round 1.
Boot Jack bucked off two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney in 2.74 seconds during Round 2 of the World Finals last week.
Moraes hopes this year’s Team Australia squad can have the kind of success to not only win the $400,000 team prize, but to also inspire a new wave of Aussie talent that can be top Built Ford Tough Series riders down the line.
“I believe I was given a chance to change the way they perceive the competition and bull riding in general,” Moraes said. “I really believe if I can prove to them that they are good, that later on, 10-20 years from now, they will be remembered as the very first generation that changed the game.
“Australia will be a force to be reckoned with and I think I can be a part of that. I will be a part of that. My mentality. My beliefs. My approach. I want to affect them with that. It is the whole culture.”
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