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.

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