The 'Perfect Role Model' Behind Addo-Carr's Origin Push
Melbourne Storm sensation Josh Addo-Carr once earned pocket money from his legendary grandfather Wally Carr for each try he scored.
It is just one of the many things the Storm try-scoring whiz has to thank the man he simply calls 'pop' for, although Wally would be broke if he had to keep paying his grandson for four-pointers.
Wally Carr was a great Aboriginal boxer and regarded as one of the best fighters in Australia in his heyday in the 1970s. He fought in 100 professional bouts on his way to winning a plethora of state and national titles.
In a book on his life called My Longest Round, Wally outlines how he battled to rise above the toughest of circumstances for all of his success and pulls no punches about emerging from his own battles with alcohol.
It his grandfather's rise to the top in his own chosen sport that continues to inspire Addo-Carr.
"Pop was a perfect role model for me," the Melbourne winger told NRL.com at the launch of the NRL's Indigenous Round in Brisbane on Monday.
"I didn’t want to waste my life. I wanted to achieve something.
"Pop grew up without a dad and moved from place to place with family. He has been fighting since he was born. That made him the person he is today and is why he was able to achieve so much in his life.
"I am very proud to be his grandson and to have his blood running through my veins."
Addo-Carr's appetite for scoring tries knows no bounds. Since arriving at the Storm last year he has scored 34 tries in 36 games, including nine in his last four outings.
That hunger for tries had early beginnings.
"Every time I played in the under sixes back in the day pop would give me $5 or $10 for every try," Addo-Carr grinned.
"That seemed like $1000 at the time. My pop is the best. He's not paying me now…but I wish."
Wally would need deep pockets to keep up with his grandson now, but he can take some credit that Addo-Carr is unleashing his best with Melbourne.
When Addo-Carr was at the Wests Tigers and weighing up his future in 2016 he turned to his family for guidance. His grandfather gave him some words of advice that proved to be both wise and prophetic.
"Pop said to me 'if you want to be the best you've got to be coached by the best and play with the best'. It was great advice and why I came to Melbourne," Addo-Carr said.
"[The best] is what I aim to be, hopefully, if I am lucky. I am just very grateful I am at the Melbourne Storm. It is the best decision I ever made.
"I am certainly coached by the best. Craig [Bellamy] is grouse and I love being coached by him.
"I love how competitive he is. When it comes down to the crunch he wants the best out of his players. Off the field, he loves a laugh and he has a sense of humour, although people probably don't believe me."
The 22-year-old flyer has to pinch himself about winning the 2017 NRL grand final with the Storm and admits to viewing re-runs of that triumph.
"I watch it all the time," he said.
"It is why you play the game. You want to be the best you can be and you want to be number one.
"I was fortunate enough to play in a grand final and win but to do it with this club is very special."
Addo-Carr, who played his junior footy with the Doonside Roos, Earlwood Saints and La Perouse Panthers, is proud of his Indigenous heritage.
That is why each year he looks forward to pulling on the Redfern All Blacks jersey at the Koori Knockout and to the NRL Indigenous Round, where on Saturday night he will line up with the Storm against the Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium.
"I'm excited every year to play in this round and it is a real privilege to be a part of it," Addo-Carr said.
"It is great that the NRL supports it, and the Indigenous communities are very proud to see this event happen every year.
"I also love playing at the [Koori] Knockout and try to every year. It is where we are all proud to represent our community and family."
Talk to Addo-Carr and you soon get the sense that he is a young man who is on his way to the top and who will embrace any challenge that stands in his way.
He attended Matraville Sports High to enhance his prospects of a rugby league career. Just getting there was an ordeal and the only slow trip the speed demon has ever made.
"I travelled almost two hours to get to school every day from Earlwood," he grinned.
"The bus I caught used to go through the domestic and international airports to get to Maroubra Junction and that would take forever. I did that for three or four years straight."
Addo-Carr embraced long and short distance running at school and ran the 100m in 10.7 seconds, the last time he recalls being recorded over that distance. He said he'd "love to find out" whether he's as quick now. Ask his opponents and they would likely have the answer, and it wouldn’t be slower.
His electrifying pace and game smarts now has Addo-Carr a red-hot favourite to make his NSW debut in this year's Holden State of Origin Series.
"I could be a chance and I'd love to do it," he said.
" It is every NRL player's dream and every little kid's dream to play State Of Origin and it is fantastic my name is being tossed around.
"I tell everyone I have to be consistent with the Melbourne Storm and if the opportunity comes up I'll take it with both hands."
Like every opportunity that comes his way, on or off the field.
"I am studying youth work and to be a teacher's aide so I do a lot of work with Indigenous kids in Melbourne and it is something I am very passionate about," he said.
"It is an AFL city but when I tell the kids my story in rugby league they are very proud to hear what I have gone through. I suppose it gives them belief."
It is a belief his grandfather Wally always had in him. As the chat with NRL.com winds down Addo-Carr remembers a magic moment earlier this year when his pop attended the club's pre-season camp in Geelong.
As part of the camp the club has a culture night where players from different backgrounds make a presentation to their peers and the coaching group about their heritage.
The Storm, unbeknownst to Addo-Carr, had arranged for Wally to fly down and be a part of the evening to talk about his boxing career and background.
Josh, dressed in a T-shirt proudly emblazoning the Aboriginal colours, had a picture taken with his pop which he posted on Instagram.
"It was a big surprise to have pop there and I just want to thank the Melbourne Storm," Addo-Carr said as he graciously walked away for another interview, one of the many he will no doubt do in what is shaping as an electrifying career.