Billy Walters proud of his rugby league bloodlines
Billy Walters has a famous dad but he still gets star-struck.
The son of Queensland coach Kevin Walters admitted to a case of nerves when he ran out on Suncorp Stadium during last Friday's testimonial for Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston.
As he tried to clear his mind, who should welcome him to the pitch? Thurston himself.
"At the first scrum, he said hello and welcome," Walters said.
"I was a bit gob-smacked. I don't think I replied - I just packed the scrum. I didn't know what to say to him, I was a bit star-struck."
"I think when I got onto the field, they brought on (Jason) Taumalolo and (Matt) Scott. You think you'd be scared, but I was kind of excited about how I'd go against the big boys, which was good."
Walters joined the Melbourne Storm senior squad this year after excelling for Brisbane Easts in the Intrust Super Cup.
He grew up around a footballing family – his father played for Australia and Queensland, as did uncles Kerrod and Steve - and says this success or recognition hasn't hindered his career aspirations.
"I'd like to think it's been helpful," he said.
"It has its moments where people can get into you. But I like that - I like having my dad who he is, and what he has achieved.
"I don't think he had to encourage me - I'd always follow him to training. Sometimes I used to sleep with my boots on when I was four years old in bed. I always wanted to play footy - and rugby league."
The 24-year-old playmaker says it's only been the last three years where he's gained enough size to handle the physicality of the NRL.
He broke his leg last year and had thoughts of giving away rugby league. But he kept the faith.
"I thought that might have been me done. But thinking back to Cody Walker, who was playing for Easts like me, he also got picked up by the Storm at my age. And even Ryley Jacks last year, who also got picked up and shot to the top, and was playing round one.
''Not a lot of people expected that. There's always hope, you've got to keep believing in yourself."
The club has helped him get ready for his first year with the top squad, with a couple of Storm stalwarts in particular.
"It was a little bit intimidating to be honest because of how successful they've been," he said.
"Everyone's been really welcoming, through the office to the players. Smithy and (Billy) Slater were probably the first two people to welcome me to the club, which was good.''
Now for an NRL start. But the young Walters is happy to bide his time learning off some of the best in the meantime.