Billy is no longer the kid

Billy is no longer the kid

Imagine growing up and your dad is a rugby league star and your uncles both played for Queensland and Australia.

You would be the most popular kid in school and have bragging rights in the playground.

Everyone would want to be your best mate.

That was the childhood of Billy Walters, set to play five-eighth for Queensland Residents against New South Wales Residents on Sunday - the curtain-raiser to State of Origin II.

But Billy says he never really knew what all the fuss was about, because he used to go to football with his dad Kevin and uncles Steve and Kerrod almost every weekend.

"I probably didn't realise how lucky and fortunate I was until I was about 16 or 17 because we would always be going to Broncos games, Origins or Test matches or grand finals," he told QRL Media.

"For a long time I was pretty naïve. I just thought that is what people did if they loved rugby league.

"Then one day I realised not everyone got those opportunities and lived that lifestyle.

"I definitely appreciated it a lot more the last few years and understood how lucky I was."

Kevin, Kerrod and Steve Walters hold a rare place in history as brothers who all played for Australia at the same time.

However, Billy said coming from one of the best rugby league families in the game's history did not put any pressure on him to make it.

"It doesn't bother me at all. In fact, it is something I am quite proud of," he said.

"I use it as motivation sometimes because I want to achieve those same goals."

"They are all great. They just try and help out when they can and support me.

"Dad might throw in a cheeky comment here or there big-noting himself and will let him get away with it because he was a pretty good.

"He sometimes makes me watch his old videos to show off how good he was.

"If it gets too much I just remind him he got carried by Alfie (close friend Allan Langer)," Billy adds with a laugh.

With 296 NRL games, 20 Origins for Queensland, 11 Tests and six premierships (one with Canberra and five with Brisbane) as a player, and now two victorious State of Origin series as coach, his old man does have some bragging rights in the Walters household.

Kevin's twin Kerrod and older brother Steve both won premierships and played for Queensland and Australia while Billy was growing up.

Walters has been in Melbourne's system now for about six months and loves it.

"I've learned so much since I've been in Melbourne, I knew it would be a great fit for me because having been there briefly before I know they do all the little things and that's what I need to improve in my game, "he said.

He has backed himself to play NRL for the Storm by going up against a couple of promising young halves in current No.7 Ryley Jacks and a player everyone was talking about at the start of the season, halfback Brodie Croft, tagged a Cooper Cronk clone.

"The quality down there is amazing. I'm always working on extras and stuff and learning as much as I can," Billy said.

"Hopefully Sunday's game will give me some more big match experience so when I do get a call up to the NRL, I'm ready because that's what you have be if you get a shot - ready.

"The Melbourne guys are great blokes. They're not snobby they will talk to you and help you as much as they can. They work the extra with you and give you pointers on how you can improve things in your game.

"I'm just trying to soak it all up.

"I think I am ready to play NRL and so does dad, it's just about the opportunity.

"Right now there is Jacks, Croft and Cameron Munster in front of me and they're all great players so it's a case of waiting for an opportunity and being ready to grab when it comes along."

Walters recalled a story about an impromptu footy game last Christmas against his dad and his uncles which made him smile.

"The footy came out after a few drinks with all the kids taking on the oldies," he revealed.

"There was a bit of macho man stuff going on and everyone was trying to run over the top of each other, there weren't too many sidesteps.

"I think all the old people woke up a bit sore the next morning."

While he didn't see the live feed of his dad answering questions at Monday's official Origin team announcement, he said he'd heard he had been a bit short at the press conference.

"Someone actually told me he walked out?" said Walters.

"I guess he is under a bit of pressure this year after losing game one, and with a few injuries the camps probably aren't going as smoothly as he would like, but he will be fine.

"He's pretty calm most of the time and doesn't get too worked up."

One thing is certain for the Walters clan. Sunday shapes as a massive day for both father and son at ANZ Stadium.