Steelers legend Ian Russell is happy to admit he has converted to be a supporter of the round ball game.
It’s not a decision the former rugby league hard-man made overnight, but came as a result of his 16-year-old son Tate.
Earlier this year Tate was signed by the Western Sydney Wanderers youth academy and is now midway through his first season at the club.
Russell couldn’t be prouder.
“It’s changed me but it is good to see him kick a ball and see how well he is going with it,” Russell, who still follows rugby league closely, said.
"I am rapt.
“He is going really well and he is enjoying it so that’s the main thing.”
Russell played more than 100 games for the Steelers and was named the competition’s Dally M Lock Of The Year in 1992.
But despite his father’s storied career in the rival code, Tate has always played football.
“[My parents] put me in to release energy to start off with and I started liking it more and more,” Tate Russell said.
“Dad didn’t play Rugby League until under 18’s and so I was pretty much put into it by my parents because I enjoyed it so much, obviously trying new things and being young.
“I always stuck to it.”
Beginning his career at Wollongong Olympic, Russell played for Project 22 and the Wollongong Wolves before moving the Western Sydney.
This season is the A-League club’s first in the NSW NPL Men’s 2 and Russell has been quick to realise the high standard upheld at the Wanderers.
“Straight away I noticed how professional they are up there,” Tate Russell said.
“I have felt very welcome at the club.
“It is a really good bunch of boys and the standard is so high as well.”
Russell plays as an attacking-minded right back after previously playing more in the front third.
He continues to do his schooling by distance education while participating in regular training sessions at Western Sydney.
Based in Gwynneville, he makes the trip up several times a week with fellow Wollongong product Lachlan Scott.
Scott, 18, signed his maiden first team contract with the Wanderers earlier this year and has just started his first preseason at the club.
He has provided Russell with crucial support in the defender’s first season at the club.
“He would probably be one of the most influential boys considering he is down here,” Russell said.
“I have been going up with him in the mornings and he tells me to keep my head up when I make a mistake and has helped with my motivation.”
Western Sydney are currently locked in a promotion battle with bitter A-League rivals Sydney FC.
They currently lead the Sky Blues by just one point on the ladder ahead of a difficult home match against Macarthur Rams this Saturday at Blacktown Football Park.