Black and blue

Australian bull rider Brendon Clark was taken immediately by ambulance to a hospital in Omaha following his injury. Andy Watson, courtesy PBR

Brendon Clark is battered, bruised and unbowed.

The popular Australian cowboy is on the outside looking in at the qualifier standings for the Professional Bull Riders World Finals after a season filled with injuries  including the worst one of his career  yet he is also confident that he has time to make the money needed to get into the top 40 and qualify for the finals.

Points earned on the PBR's Built Ford Tough Series determine the world champion, but it's dollars earned that determine which riders qualify for the PBR World Finals.

"I'm not really worried about it at all," said Clark, 28, who sits in 45th place in the qualifier standings with $39,975, about $5,500 out of 40th spot. "I've been in this situation before and come through it. I've still got plenty of events to go to win the amount of money it takes to make the Finals."

It has been a challenging season for Clark, who lives in Coalinga, Calif., when not at home in Morepeth, Australia. His name has appeared often on the PBR's injury list and he has had to sit out eight of the 26 Built Ford Tough Series events.

He aggravated a groin injury that he first suffered during the 2008 season in January and it remains a nagging injury at every event he goes to. He also suffered a concussion after being stepped on by a bull in Albuquerque and added a bum shoulder to his injury list during the first round in Springfield, Mo., but those are minor inconveniences compared to the injury he suffered in Omaha, Neb., in April.

In the second round of the event, Clark was stepped on by the bull Black Smoke. He suffered a lacerated liver, contusions on both lungs and broken ribs. He spent three days in the Creighton University Hospital and missed the next four months of the season.

"That was the worst," he said. "I've never had to go through anything like that before. The worst injury I've had up until that time was probably a torn ligament in my knee. That was the first in my whole entire bull riding career that I've ever been taken to the hospital. I've never been in a hospital at all and never carried out of an arena like that."

It was a serious injury, said Dr. Tandy Freeman, the PBR's medical director.

"After getting stepped on like he did in Omaha, in some respects, he's fortunate to be riding at all at this point," Freeman said.

Clark recuperated at home in California and returned to the Built Ford Tough Series at the Nashville event in August. He said now it's just a matter of getting his timing back.

"It was a really hard injury to come back from and it's been really hard since I've been back, but I feel like everything is starting to come together now. It's just going to take some time."

Clark's riding ability has never been a question. He's qualified for the PBR World Finals every year since 2003. Last season he earned a career-high $221,000 despite injuries to his groin, knee and riding hand.

He showed that he is starting to round back into form at the Reno Invitational in early September. In the first round, he rode the Mossyrock Cattle Company bull Habanero for 83 points, limping from the arena with his injured groin muscles. Still, he earned a check for $400, his first on the Built Ford Tough Series since before his accident in Omaha.

He bucked off Tight Rope of Cunningham/Boyd & Floyd in the second round before bucking off Monkey Shine of 4C Bucking Bulls in the third round. After that ride, Clark looked much more mad than hurt.

He said injuries are just part of the game for bull riders and he's determined to make the most of the remaining five BFTS events and earn a seventh consecutive qualification to the PBR World Finals.

"It's one of those deals where you have to keep your head down and keep striving because just one of these events pays a lot of money," he said.