Billy Britain goes against the tide
Tuesday 15 January 2013 12:19 PM
Billy Brittain was always destined to play footy in Melbourne.
But it was supposed to be for AFL club North Melbourne, not the Storm in the NRL.
Billy's dad Craig Brittain played a handful of games in the VFL for the Kangaroos before a persistent knee injury forced him home to Queensland where he went on to become a Grogan medallist and play and coach premierships in the QAFL as well as being involved in the Brisbane Lions during their three-year reign between 2001-2003 as AFL premiers.
Billy's uncle, Wayne Brittain, was also a QAFL premiership coach and had a stint as head coach at AFL club Carlton.
As you would expect, there was always a Sherrin in Billy's hands in the early years but one day he booted it away and picked-up a Steeden instead.
"It was definitely an AFL house and I played in the under-6s, but I remember seeing the NRL on the television and I just knew straight away I wanted to play it," he said.
"I was a bit nervous telling Dad I wanted to play league but he just said, you play whatever makes you happy, as long as it's not soccer."
Craig could hardly object. What many people didn't know was that he had also had ties to rugby league.
A fiery competitor, he was no stranger to the tribunal over his career and used to turn out for his local league side whenever he was serving a suspension to maintain his fitness.
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Billy has followed the path of many talented Queensland juniors and drifted between the two rugby codes.
He was signed to a scholarship by the Brisbane Broncos at age 13 and captained Nudgee College in the Queensland schoolboys in rugby.
When recruiter Paul Bunn left the Broncos to join the Storm at the end of last year he took Billy, who had recently turned 18, with him.
At the Broncos Billy played his underage football as a hooker but the Storm saw him as the long-term replacement for Cooper Cronk at halfback.
"He's had the opportunity to train with first grade over summer and he is going really well. Craig Bellamy (Storm coach) says he has a great work ethic," Bunn said.
"He is like his dad. We checked on him from people we know connected to North Melbourne and they say his great attributes were his hardness and toughness - the young fella displays a lot of that."
Melbourne Storm's office will be closed from 2pm Tuesday 24 December, re-opening at 9am on Monday 6 January.
With Gosch's Paddock warming up in the Melbourne sun on Wednesday, Storm hit the training track for another skills session.
Will Chambers Media Conference
After returning from St. Kilda's overseas training camp last week, Will Chambers spoke to the media about his experience in Boulder, Colorado with the Saints.