Pat makes the big league and The Chief couldn't be prouder

He was known as one of league's hard men, but we reckon there might have been a "glimmer" in his eye when Eddie "The Chief" Billing's grandson, Patrick Carrigan, ran out for the Broncos.
He was known as one of league's hard men, but we reckon there might have been a "glimmer" in his eye when Eddie "The Chief" Billing's grandson, Patrick Carrigan, ran out for the Broncos.

Eddie "The Chief" Billing can't wipe the grin off his face after watching grandson Patrick Carrigan make his NRL debut last week - even if it was for those "dirty" Broncos.

Carrigan is the son of former Goondiwindi residents, Ross and Carmel, and he follows a strong family tradition of leaguies, now having the top bragging rights amongst the family. "My father Noel was the first Carrigan to play rugby league in Goondiwindi. They won a premiership in 1929. I played in the '50s and my son and both my sons-in-law have played for Gundy. I've got six grandsons who all play so there has been a fair bit of pressure for him to play league," Eddie laughed.

"The Chief" and other members of the family travelled to Brisbane for the game on Thursday night. "It was a great thrill," he said. "When I got down there they had a brand new Broncos cap and scarf waiting for me. I'll be a patchy Broncos supporter," Eddie joked. "In 1956 I got my first pay check and bought a radio. I listened to St George play and I've been following them ever since.

"We got a pass into the inner sanctum after the game and met a few of the players. So I suppose it wasn't too bad to be able to chat with some of the country's best footballers," Eddie said.

The locals were quite vocal in the crowd, cheering on Carrigan. "The rest of the crowd was wondering what all the noise was about."

Patrick Carrigan in action for the Broncos.

Patrick Carrigan in action for the Broncos.

Carmel said they were proud to watch him run on to the field for that initial game. "We were invited to sit in the chairman's box and they had a little presentation and talk about his journey afterwards which was lovely," she said. "They are very inclusive. It's like a big family.

"I was very anxious for him. It's what he has always dreamed of. It takes a village. We are very lucky for all the support we have been given over the years to help him achieve this," Carmel said.

And he is predicted to do big things. "He's got a pretty good track record," said. "He's been captain of the QLD under 20s and vice captain of Australia so he's got a bit going for him. These days there are millions of dollars involved in the game, you can make a living out of it, but I would like to see him carry on with a trade or university because it all goes fairly quickly."