It may not look like it from the outside, but he hasn’t had the easiest run in rugby league, our Billy. He’s been through it all: Melbourne Storm salary cap scandals, suspensions, hard knocks, crippling shoulder injuries. And yet still he smiles, ploughing on as if he’s having all the fun in the world: because he is. If after devouring our cover story this month, you still have an appetite for Billy, this quality title is where you should head. A long-time writer for Inside Sport for many years, Richard Hinds’ sessions with Billy The Kid drew out some terrific insight into the bumpy road of the Innisfail junior’s life. Revealed is the base of Billy’s success as a rugby league player: an unwavering confidence as a youngster in whatever he threw his hat at: horse-riding, performing in relos’ country music acts, the lot. His ability to back himself proved invaluable when he hit the elite rugby league stage – it may surprise some people, but the first game he played at fullback was at his NRL debut, such was this self-belief of his. The book goes does go down some dark alleys, too, stepping inside Billy’s mind while he was in the midst of his two shoulder re-cons. Billy’s insights offer a crystal-clear window into the self-loathing and depressing world of the long-term injured footballer, which can eat up the strongest human spirit if their mental guard is down for long enough. According to the adage, it takes a village. Too true: Billy has had a loving team come along with him on his journey, who all contribute with half-page cameos about certain episodes of Billy’s life. Cameron Smith, Craig Bellamy, Billy’s manager George Mimis, Darren Lockyer and Billy’s wife, Nicole all offer insights, but it’s another of his Storm mates, Cooper Cronk, who wins the award for revelations here, for this quote: “It was an incredibly difficult time for Bill. No sportsman will ever admit this, but when you are injured, on one hand you want your team to do well, but on the other you don’t want them to do well because you don’t want to miss out. It’s a strange dynamic.”
GOODFOR: Queenslanders and Victorians … and New South Welsh folk who are keen to learn the back story of one of the players who has caused them so much pain all these years.