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Billy the Brave: Resilient Rooster on the Road to Redemption

It seems like the name Billy Smith has been floating around rugby league's orbit for years. Ever since the fresh-faced rookie donned the famous Red, White, and Blue for the first time all the way back in Round 23, 2019, it has felt that way.  

Always a name worth remembering, etched in the back of the minds of those who know what this kid is capable of.   

Smith's scintillating start to his career saw the 19-year-old score a try on debut against the Dragons, when he was called in to replace seasoned veteran Brett Morris of all people. He followed up the next week with a lion-hearted performance; and another try against bitter rivals South Sydney.  

Billy Smith scored a try against the South Sydney Rabbitohs in just his second NRL match.
Billy Smith scored a try against the South Sydney Rabbitohs in just his second NRL match.

Smith had passed his litmus test with flying colours, but his hopes soon came to a frustrating halt.  

Since then, the now 23-year-old has had a horrific run of injuries, restricting him to just 15 NRL appearances across nearly four years. In 2022, Smith tragically ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) for the third time, sending him back to the treatment room once more. 

You couldn't have blamed him for having serious thoughts about an early retirement from the game before he'd even got started.  

Fast forward to 2023, and the lively centre is injury free and back playing the game he loves, for the Club he loves. With three appearances in 2023 under his belt, Smith will be looking to cement himself as a pivotal cog in the Roosters machine, determined to showcase his first-grade ability and rocket a struggling Easts side back into Premiership contention.  

Smith: 'I'm Loving Being Back Playing Footy'

Smith believes he has tested his limits both mentally and physically over the past three and a half years, citing his ambition, and his ability to put struggles in perspective as the reason his career is alive and well.  

"It’s been a crazy few years, I've worked really hard to be honest," he said.   

I really wanted to nail my return, I'm still nowhere near where I want to be. I'd love to play for NSW, I'd love to play for Australia one day, I've got some aspirations in this game for sure.  

Billy Smith

"Sometimes it looks a million miles away... the biggest thing for me is perspective, I've just learnt to appreciate being back and playing footy – we live a really good life. I have so much to be grateful for, look where we live!" 

Smith's return in Magic Round this year saw him grind out an impressive best on ground performance for the Red, White and Blue against the Cowboys, reflecting the determination and resilience that have become hallmarks of his character as both a player and person.  

Aside from his personal goals, Smith is a team man, and is aware his return comes at a crucial time for the Roosters who will need his best as they look to turn around a poor run of form at a crucial stage of the season.  

"Although I'm happy to be back playing, the results haven't been what we’ve wanted them to be," he said. 

"We have so many good players across the park, we've just lost our way a bit on some key areas, but I have so much faith in this club and in this team. There's so much talk on the outside about this club but internally there's a drive and hunger, it’s just about nailing it in the games." 

Billy Smith is happy to be back playing the game he loves, for the Club he loves.
Billy Smith is happy to be back playing the game he loves, for the Club he loves.

Smith's footballing flair and mental fortitude will doubtlessly provide the Roosters with an added spark in attack, an area where they have struggled in recent weeks, as they look forward to a run of massive fixtures amongst the Origin period.  

In a week where Club legends Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Daniel Tupou have extended their respective tenures at the Tricolours for an extra season, Smith says their loyalty and dedication to the Club is spurring the players on and has provided a source of inspiration for the younger players at the Club, including himself.  

"Jaz and Toops are icons of this club," he said.   

Both of them have so much wisdom, they're such good role models for any up-and-coming footy player.

Billy Smith

With the Roosters set to face the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs this Sunday on the Central Coast, Smith is excited to tackle the challenges the game and the rest of the season will provide, intent on helping his team while proving himself as a top-tier NRL prospect.   

Acknowledgement of Country

Sydney Roosters respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.