Normally when a professional bull rider has lost control of their animal, and an angry, rampaging bullock is out for blood in the arena, you would be running for the edge of the ring.
For the Hunter’s Mitch Russell and Geoff Hall, that’s when their job at the Professional Bull Riders Newcastle Invitational will begin.
“Our job is to take the bull away from the fallen rider, which may involve laying on them if they’re injured, or just baiting the bull away so that someone can remove him,” Hall explained on the eve of Newcastle’s bull riding event.
“Our first is getting the rider out of the arena before there’s any damage, and then we want to calm down the bull and make sure it doesn’t injure itself while we’re removing it.”
Hall explained his “love of rodeo” birthed a career as a protection rider, and he said when he saw the guardsman emerge at the ring one rodeo, he became curious and looked further into it.
“I kind of got involved in that world because I was interested and started doing it myself, and then I just never stopped,” he said.
Despite a career of broken bones, ruptured ACLs, concussions and knocked out teeth – as well as three knee reconstructions and a horn to the neck – Hall’s feelings on the job are simple: “It’s just about making sure everyone gets out okay, that’s all I care about.”
“You haven’t got time to think about any kind of dangers or problems that might arise, you just have to make sure you do your job or someone else could get hurt because of it,” he said. “I honestly try not to think too much, it’s just about what has to be done. Someone has to do it and I’m happy to do it.”
Hall, alongside fellow protection athletes Mitch Russell and Clint Kelly, will be appearing in their “home town bout” on August 11 at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre.
“We’re pumped to make our debut as a team in front of hometown crowds – as well as our friends and families who don’t always get to see us out in the arena,” Hall said. “I know all of the riders are looking forward to it too – and plenty of them are in good form, so it should be an absolute ripper of a night.”
The PBR event will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in Newcastle.