How I met Billy: Cameron Smith
My friendship with Billy really started in Melbourne. It was a time of huge adjustment in our lives.
Here was a kid from Innisfail who didn't wear shoes to school suddenly living in a Richmond townhouse with a kid from Logan, a small-ish place about 40 kilometres out of Brisbane. Melbourne was so much bigger than anything we'd ever known. People everywhere. Traffic jams. It was daunting, but it was also an adventure.
Bill was probably more prepared than me in terms of being away from family because he'd spent six months in Sydney as a 16-year-old working in Gai Waterhouse's stables. In saying that, I had made my NRL debut the year before Bill moved to Melbourne, so I was a little bit more familiar with the first-grade system and the expectations within it.
We all leaned on each other in those early days.
We'd dreamed of playing first-grade since we were kids, but none of us had put much thought into the other elements of living in Melbourne; being so far away from family and friends, hardly anyone knowing rugby league, the weather.
I didn't realise it at the time, but this was the period when my life began to run parallel with Billy's. It started with footy – first at the Storm, then Queensland and Australia – but it would also apply to our lives as husbands and fathers.
We did all those things around the same time. I think now about how lucky I've been.
I mean, how many people in life get to share all of their biggest moments in their professional and personal lives with one of their best mates?