Talking with Billy Walters about playing out of his father's shadow

Nathan Cleary was the first to undertake the task when he was chosen to debut for the Panthers by his father Ivan in 2016.

Despite varied success across the elder Cleary's playing and coaching career to date, Nathan has so far displayed greater talent having played five State of Origin matches for NSW despite being just 22 years of age.

Kyle Flanagan, meanwhile, was long spoken about as the NRL's next supreme halfback talent, especially when playing under his father Shane at the Cronulla Sharks.

Since moving to the Roosters this year, Kyle has taken his game to another level. He may be playing in an incredibly talented Sydney side, but he currently leads the NRL in points scored by a comfortable margin.

And now it is time for Billy Walters, son of Queensland's State of Origin coach and legendary Broncos playmaker Kevin Walters, to take on the NRL.

But he insists that his last name certainly hasn't given him a free ride throughout his rugby league career.

"Growing up I was a very late bloomer," Walters told the Talking with TK podcast, "I didn't really become a man, I'd say, until I was at least 20.

"It was hard for me growing up in the under 16s, 17s, 18s because I was so small - it was hard to compete with some of these boys who were already men."

"All I had to do was try and stay patient and wait until I grew into my body, and then hopefully things will happen from there - which is what happened in the end."

In fact, Walters joked he may have suffered more than most as a young footy player due to the fame surrounding his surname.

"One of the best sledges I ever got was in a grand final... the halfback in the other team had a scrum and he said I looked really pale.

"I said 'what do you mean' and he said 'you look really pale because you've been sitting in your dad's shadow your whole life."

As is the case with many young rookies in the NRL, Walters knows that it's his defense that will ensure he nails down a spot in first grade long-term.

"You have to throw your body at (the ball-carrier)," Walters said, "and sometimes it just looks like you're trying to put a hit on.

"But that's just what I have to do every tackle because otherwise they'll just bump me off and put me on my bum.

"If you do that enough times at the start, they won't come look for you - they'll just run normally."

Much like Cleary and Flanagan before him, Walters faces an immense challenge to prove he has what it takes to thrive in the NRL regardless of what his last name might be.

However, if his performance against the Broncos in Round 10 (1 try, 1 try assist, 38 tackles and only 1 missed tackle) is any indication of things to come, Walters could be headed for the stars.