Gorden Tallis teared up when reflecting on Billy Walters.
Gorden Tallis teared up when reflecting on Billy Walters.

Big bulls do cry: Gorden Tallis's touching tribute

IT TAKES a fair bit to get Gorden Tallis to tear up, but the raging bull wasn't afraid to let it all out as he paid an emotional tribute to the Walters family ahead of Billy's NRL debut.

Just days out from the most important game of his coaching career, Kevin Walters broke from Queensland camp to make the mad dash to Wollongong to see his son make his debut for Melbourne against St George Illawarra on Thursday night.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy even held back the usual jumper presentation process just before warm-up so Kevvie could make it in time and have the honour of handing Billy his first NRL jumper.

Billy was only a little boy when his mum, Kim, died of breast cancer in 1998.

Fox Sports showed vision on Thursday night of a young Billy on his father's lap after Kevvie had captained Brisbane to the premiership in 2000.

As it aired, the memory of the occasion also brought one of the game's toughest and most fearless to tears.

Billy Walters celebrates during Storm’s win with teammate Nelson Asofa-Solomona. PIcture: AAP
Billy Walters celebrates during Storm’s win with teammate Nelson Asofa-Solomona. PIcture: AAP

Gorden Tallis was Kevvie's former Broncos teammate and the two remain great mates.

When Fox League host Yvonne Sampson asked Tallis about that grand final day, Tallis was overcome with emotion.

"Just what Kevvie went through," he said, pausing to compose himself.

"It's really hard."

Walters with his father after the Broncos' premiership win in 2000. Picture: Mark Evans
Walters with his father after the Broncos' premiership win in 2000. Picture: Mark Evans

At that point, with the footage from the 2000 grand final victory over the Sydney Roosters still showing, fellow panellist Michael Ennis stepped in.

"Yeah, Gordie, it must be really hard mate and that's what I touched on," he said. "These moments, they're really special - for the Walters family and for Kevvie. He's a champion guy."

Tallis added: "It just shows that our game is real. You know, that there's dads. That (grand final win) will probably be one of Kevvie's greatest achievements.

"He was a single dad for a long time... it's good."

And at that point he was no longer able to hold back the tears.

It will go down as a proud moment for Kevvie and Billy after he finally made the jump to the NRL stage himself.

Billy has long been regarded as a special young footballing talent, but it has been a long journey to get to the big time after years of playing in the Storm's feeder system in the Queensland Cup.

"Billy has been with us two years and before that he had been in the Queensland Cup for a little while," said coach Craig Bellamy after the match.

"You know, he is 24 years old. These days it is not old but a lot of guys make their debuts before that.

"Kevvie had been at our club too and I didn't think it was a real bad idea to have the Origin coach in our dressing room just before the game either. We don't usually have jumper presentations before the game, we usually do it the day before or the night before.

"But we thought with Kevvie obviously in Origin camp he couldn't get down any earlier than what he did so that was just before the game started.

"We just thought it would be a real honour for Billy and a real honour for our team as well. I know Kevvie was really proud to do that.

"He has had some tough times in his life, Billy and Kevvie, and we all know where I am coming from there. it was quite emotional.

"Kevvie got quite emotional and Billy got quite emotional. It was a nice touch though. It is just nice to see how important sometimes a game of footy is.

"And it was certainly important to Billy tonight and it was certainly important to Kevvie and his family."

Billy Walters produced a solid performance in the 16-14 win.

News Corp Australia


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