Pride's young league talent shoulders dual roles
NORTH Queensland's great football factory might just be a family owned butcher's shop on Ernest St, Innisfail.
In the back room of Ron and Dan's Butchery a young Billy Slater and Ty Williams worked side-by-side before taking the NRL world by storm.
It is the same place Steve Lacaze, the son of owner Dan, served his apprenticeship before taking off for an injury-plagued NRL career in which he played one game for Brisbane Broncos.
"I don't know what to say," Dan said yesterday.
"It must be pretty good meat."
Jordan Biondi-Odo is the latest rugby league prospect off the Ron and Dan production line.
Biondi-Odo is on the third year of his butchery apprenticeship and the first year of his rugby league apprenticeship.
At Innisfail he learns how to carve up carcasses with Lacaze and then he travels to Cairns where Williams teaches him how to carve up defences.
"We've got a lot of good halves at the club, so it's a great opportunity for me to learn," Biondi-Odo said this week.
Williams served his full apprenticeship at Ron and Dan's before moving to Townsville to embark on his NRL career with North Queensland Cowboys.
Slater's stay was just one week as part of work experience while he was in Year 10 at Innisfail State High School.
"Ty was just brilliant," Lacaze said.
"In fact, I still use him as a role model for young guys coming through.
"Billy's stay here was only short but he would have made a good butcher if he wanted to.
"Obviously he's gone on and done better than that."
Both Lacaze and Biondi-Odo's other boss, Northern Pride coach Jason Demetriou, sees a little bit of Williams in the young prospect.
Of the young prospects to arrive at Northern Pride this season, Demetriou believes the first-year halfback might be the most impressive.
A regular day for Biondi-Odo might start with a 5.30am training session in Cairns, followed a shift at Ron and Dan's at Innisfail before returning to Cairns for an afternoon Northern Pride session.
"It's the kind of commitment you want to see from a young player," Demetriou said.
"He's willing to do whatever we ask him to do to become a better player and achieve his potential and he has really impressed me so far."
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Future star: Jordan Biondi-Odo, 19, juggles being an apprentice butcher at Innisfail and a rugby league career with the Northern Pride. Picture: STEWART MCLEAN