Billy Gilbert’s exploits on and off the field are quickly turning him into a cult hero with the CQ Capras in Rockhampton.
Billy Gilbert’s exploits on and off the field are quickly turning him into a cult hero with the CQ Capras in Rockhampton.

Outback Bill: Incredible story of rugby league’s new cult hero

IN an era of beep tests, Yo-Yos and BMIs, Billy Gilbert is a throwback to a time when men became match fit simply by doing manly things.

Gilbert's name will be unfamiliar to all except those in the southwest of NSW and the most staunch of Sharks supporters but his on-field exploits for the CQ Capras in the Intrust Super Cup and his extraordinary pre-season regimen is winning him plenty of admirers in Rockhampton.

The Capras will form part of a major footy festival in Gladstone this Sunday as the Titans take their home game against the Sea Eagles to Marley Brown Oval where Gilbert is likely to feature prominently against Burleigh.

His 67th minute try sparked the Capras' come-from-behind win over Ipswich last Thursday but it was the 21-year-old's stat line the week before that underlined his skill and high workrate.

Although the Capras went down narrowly to the Mackay Cutters 18-16 in Round 3, Gilbert walked from the field with a stats line of 47 tackles, 149 metres run, six tackle breaks, one try, one line break, two offloads, a try assist and a line break assist, his incredible workrate the by-product of 55 days spent in the outback completing backbreaking work in order to provide food for a crocodile farm.

"At the end of last footy season I went to the Northern Territory, shooting feral buffalo and horses for use in crocodile farms," Gilbert told the QRL website.

Billy Gilbert spends his spare time away from the Capras pig hunting. Credit: Courtesy of QRL
Billy Gilbert spends his spare time away from the Capras pig hunting. Credit: Courtesy of QRL

"You'd do seven animals in the morning, have lunch, then do another seven in the arvo.

"You shoot them, drag them up, spin them on their side, skin them, bone them, roll it over and do the other side.

"I tell ya, the humidity was off the Richter scale. She was a decent workout."

But that wasn't his only outback experience of the summer, Gilbert also travelled 1300 kilometres from the Northern Territory town of Katherine to help cull 40 wild camels.

"I told me old man that I wanted to work real hard, just kill myself with work, and leave no stone unturned," said Gilbert, who hails from Darlington Point 33 kilometres south of Griffith, population just 1,016.

"I'm in Rockhampton, living 1800km from home, I've got no family here, nothing in general, nothing to lose.

"I might as well give this everything I've got.

"Going to the desert, the middle of nowhere, and hunting animals while I knew everyone else was on off-season was something I wanted to do from a mental aspect."

They're the type of qualities all coaches would kill to have in all of their players but Capras coach Kim Williams conceded they have to rein in 'Outback Bill' for fear of setting unreasonable expectations.

Part of Billy Gilbert’s ‘pre-season’ involved culling 40 wild camels in the remote outback in the Northern Territory.
Part of Billy Gilbert’s ‘pre-season’ involved culling 40 wild camels in the remote outback in the Northern Territory.

"He's a character from the past; one of the sort of blokes the game probably misses a bit these days," Williams said.

"You could say he's a bit unique, but we don't ever want him to change.

"He's got a great attitude, is a sponge for information and is highly motivated to be the best he can.

"That absolute enthusiasm and drive to succeed is a fantastic strength, but we also have to temper it because he sets pretty high standards of himself.

"He needs reminding just to live in the moment sometimes."

In addition to his efforts on the field Gilbert's laid-back bush persona is also winning him plenty of fans, the 85kg No.9 taking his dog along when asked to do some local media.

"You could say he has the same outlook on life as most folks from this region," Williams explained.

"We call him 'The Man of The People' because you can't help but warm to him."



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