Bella jnr another Maroons beauty
Just when New South Wales thought the end of the Queensland dynasty may be nearing its end, the next generation of Maroons is fast emerging on the horizon, the latest being Martin Bella's son Ross.
Lachlan Lam – son of 14-Origin representative Adrian Lam – will represent the Maroons in the under-16s curtain-raiser on Wednesday night, the first player to qualify for either state under the recently-introduced father-son rule.
Given his inclusion in an extended Mackay Cutters squad for this week's Intrust Super Cup clash with the ladder-leading Ipswich Jets, higher honours are also beckoning Bella who only turned 18 years of age in the past month.
Ross was barely 18 months old when his father brought an end to a career that included 234 first grade games, 21 Origins and nine Tests for Australia but he took his time moving across to the sport in which his father had been so famous.
"He was the main reason I started when I was 12," Ross told NRL.com. "I used to play soccer until he encouraged me to change codes and I haven't looked back since and it's been my dream ever since then.
"I loved soccer at the time but he just said to try it for a year and I just never looked back from then on.
"I was only very young when Dad finished playing but I used to watch videos [of him playing] all the time; he went good."
Having completed his schooling at St Patrick's college in Mackay last year, rather than going away on Schoolies Bella spent the summer training with the Cutters throughout their pre-season program.
Set to join North Queensland's under-20s program from 2015, Bella started the 2014 season playing for Mackay's under-18s team in the Mal Meninga Cup and for the past month has been playing for Sarina in the Mackay rugby league premiership.
It's been a rapid rise but one that he has handled so well that Mackay coach Kim Williams has no reservations in taking his education to another level again in the Intrust Super Cup.
"He was pointed out to me when I first got here 18 months ago and I've certainly kept a close eye on him," Williams said.
"He has been fantastic for our under-18s the last two years and he's played a bit of first grade at Sarina and that was the biggest performance indicator, to see how he would go against the men and whether he can handle the physicality of playing men. He's looking great in the local league for Sarina and we believe he's up to this and we're very confident that when he does get a start he'll perform very well.
"He did the whole pre-season with us and was fantastic so we've known he's been ready, we just wanted him to play for our under-18s first but this is the next stage of his development and it probably is a bit sooner than we may have expected but it's too soon."
Although he is predominantly a front-rower just like his old man, Williams said that Bella also has the ability to play wider on an edge and that at such a young age he will be selective in where he plays him against particular teams.
"He's trained a bit on the edge as well and he runs a great line out there so when the day comes that he does get picked there will be a call on where we put him," said Williams, who is eager to see his side bounce back at home in Round 13 after a disappointing loss to Souths Logan last weekend.
"If it's one of the really physical teams with a big pack we probably will refrain from playing him at prop or lock and I'm not big on throwing an 18-year-old guy in against the most vicious or intimidating pack in the comp.
"He's a bit more mobile than his old man and has some ball skills as well. He's got some good footwork on him and he's very quick so he gives you a few options.
"Certainly in his under-18s he played a bit of ball through that middle channel and it worked well for him."
For all this weekend's Intrust Super Cup teams click here.