EDMONTON – Team USA head coach Justin McBride isn’t concerned one bit after having to hustle this week to find replacements for his roster for the inaugural PBR Global Cup at Roger’s Place in Edmonton, Alberta.
McBride had to find three replacements this week after 2017 World Champion Jess Lockwood, No. 6 Chase Outlaw and No. 19 Matt Triplett informed McBride and the PBR that they would be unable to compete at the Global Cup event on Friday and Saturday night because of injuries.
Lockwood is still recovering from broken ribs and got sored up during the final three rounds of the 2017 Built Ford Tough World Finals, while Chase Outlaw dislocated his right shoulder during his 90.5-point ride on Indian Medicine during the championship round.
Triplett had already known he needed shoulder surgery this offseason, and after a few rounds of the Finals he was certain he would be more of a hindrance than a help to Team USA.
Therefore, Cody Nance, who was originally named to the team in September as an alternate, took one of the spots, while Brennon Eldred and Cole Melancon (coach’s pick) filled the final two spots.
“I will tell you what, I am not very concerned about the guys that aren’t here,” McBride said. “I like the guys that are. We have a good group of boys, and they are ready to ride. They all want to be here and that is the most important thing to me. If they buy in, they will ride every bull they get on.”
McBride wants healthy and confident riders on his squad, and he is certain he has the right seven riders to win this weekend’s Global Cup.
The team with the highest overall aggregate score based on their best 14 ride scores will be the winner.
Nance, Eldred and Melancon were budding with excitement on Thursday morning during rider check-in at Rogers Place.
The trio joined the rest of the riders competing for Team Australia, Team Brazil, Team Canada, Team Mexico and Team USA to receive their Global Cup uniforms and riding gear.
“I was headed home from Vegas Monday and I am pretty pumped to get to go represent my country,” Eldred said. “This is pretty exciting being here with all my teammates and all of my friends. This (jersey) is pretty sweet. I am probably not going to take it off for a while.”
Eldred finished 2017 ranked 27th in the world standings and is coming off a 2-for-5 showing at the Built Ford Tough World Finals, where he rode Cooper Tire’s Brown Sugar for 89.25 points.
Nance went 1-for-5 and admitted on Thursday he was disappointed with his performance.
He can now turn the page as a member of Team USA.
“I am pretty pumped,” Nance said. “Triplett talked to me before the call, so I kind of expected it. I was planning on coming up here as an alternate and cheer them on. I can strap it on and still cheer them on now. It is going to be a fun bull riding.”
McBride likes that Nance will bring some edge to Team USA.
“Cody Nance brings a toughness that is hard to find not just in the USA, but in any country,” McBride said. “He is the toughest bull rider in the world and he displays it every week. He tries his guts out every time. Having him on the team makes your team tougher right away. Everyone has to rise to that toughness.”
Melancon didn’t receive the invite until Tuesday when 2016 World Champion Cooper Davis called and told him that McBride was trying to get ahold of him.
The 23-year-old had originally planned to rest and get on some practice bulls this week in preparation for next month’s Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, but said he couldn’t turn down the opportunity to ride for his country.
Melancon won a national collegiate bull riding championship this year and finished the PRCA regular season in eighth place. The Beaumont, Texas, bull rider went 1-for-3 at the 2017 Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour Finals two weeks ago, and he will be fresh compared to the riders that competed at the World Finals last weekend.
As he was packing his bags for Edmonton, Melancon thought back to when he was 14 years old and attending a bull riding school of Travis Briscoe.
Inside Briscoe’s house were his Team USA riding chaps and gear from the 2010 World Cup event.
“I was like, ‘Man, it would be awesome to be on one of those teams and be able to compete,’” Melancon said.
McBride said this weekend could be a breakout performance for Melancon, who is unknown to most PBR fans, but he has shown to be a strong bul rider with two rides aboard SweetPro’s Bruiser in the last two years.
“People don’t know him coming into it, but they will after it,” McBride said. “Like Brennon, he is a guy that can ride and he is also on his way to the NFR. My favorite thing about him before I saw him ride is his attitude. I told him he had to leave in the morning and he said he didn’t care if he had to leave that night to be on the team.”
FULL TEAM USA ROSTER
Derek Kolbaba, Cooper Davis, Stormy Wing, Cody Teel, Cody Nance, Brennon Eldred and Cole Melancon.
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