THE rivalry between NSW and Queensland is set to reignite at the Sydney Theatre on June 1, with the first-ever Professional Bull Riding State of Origin competition.
The NSW side will have a local flavour to it, with Upper Horton native Troy Wilkinson set to captain the team. He will lead eight men against the best Queensland has to offer.
A 10-year PBR veteran, Wilkinson has enjoyed a stellar career with several highlights, including taking out the 2017 PBR Australia Championship.
However, the 28-year-old said he had also faced his challenges.
"I have only recently just come back from an elbow reconstruction," Wilkinson told the Leader.
"It was badly needed. Apparently if I didn't have it done, I could have eventually lost the use of my arm.
"But I'm back now, feeling fit and ready to go."
Also included in the eight-man NSW squad are Hunter Valley natives Cody Heffernan and Cliff Richardson, with the rest of the squad to be named in the coming weeks.
"There's no doubt the rivalry between the two states runs pretty deep," Wilkinson said.
"We are all pretty passionate about our sport and the states we grew up in.
"I think when pride is on the line like this, you tend to go a little bit harder than you otherwise would - and I can't wait to get into it."
A promising rugby union player in his youth, Wilkinson said growing up in Upper Horton had a major impact on his life.
"I actually learnt to ride on sheep and poddy calves around the family farm with my brother," he said.
"From there I started bull riding at the age of 11 and fell in love with it really quickly.
"I love my rugby too and it can give you a great rush just like bull riding.
"There's no doubt growing up in Upper Horton helped shape me into the man I am today."
Wilkinson said he was honoured to be given the opportunity to captain his state.
"It is really exciting to just be competing in a State of Origin competition, let alone captaining the side," he said.
"I know all of the guys are really excited to get out there and do their best for their state."