Who’s the NRL’s sprint king? Experts’ verdict revealed
JIMMY the Jet, Tommy Turbo, Jenko, JAC, Teddy, Billy the Kid, Bevan or perhaps the Hayne Plane?
It's a debate the punters have each season without failure.
Who is the fastest man in the NRL?
Short of holding a 100m dash at ANZ Stadium as part of the halftime entertainment at the grand final, there's no definitive way to crown a winner.
But after consulting the two greatest minds to rule on such a debate, we can reveal the unanimous decision on the game's speed demons.
Our experts are Matt Shirvington and Hayden Knowles.
A former Australian national 100m record holder and Olympian, Shirvington has worked with several codes as a consultant. In the NRL he has previously been hired by St George Illawarra and is currently at Canterbury as a sprint coach.
Knowles, a sprint and conditioning guru who is the head of performance for the Gold Coast, has worked with athletes across the globe.
A former sprint coach at the Roosters and the City Origin side, Knowles has worked with Jarryd Hayne and James Tedesco on improving their running actions but settled on the same three names as Shirvington.
The experts have delivered their verdicts by splitting the decision into two categories:
Fastest over 40 metres and fastest over 100 metres.
Shirvington and Knowles both declared their top three quickest men in the game to be Josh Addo-Carr, James Roberts and Bevan French.
"I had Josh Addo-Carr in City camp last year and I've never seen anyone as fast," Knowles said.
"I said the same thing about James Roberts when I had him in a City camp a previous year so NSW are winning the State of Origin sprint race.
"I've only worked with Bevan French at an Emerging Origin camp and we didn't make them sprint but I saw glimpses. You watch him and go 'oh wow, I'd love to work with him'."
So who wins?
Over a short distance, the Brisbane ace is king.
Roberts is electric off the mark and it's speed which hasn't been taught. It comes naturally.
"James Roberts is just naturally quick," Shirvington said.
"I don't think it would matter which backline he's part of, he'll run quick.
"If Roberts trained specifically for 100 metres, he'd get faster. For me over 40, it doesn't look like there's anyone faster in the NRL."
Knowles adds; "Jimmy Roberts is so raw, fast twitch."
But what about over 100?
While the Parramatta fullback is a contender, it's the 22-year-old at the Storm who has bragging rights among the professionals.
"Addo-Carr would probably be faster over a longer distance," Shirvington said.
"He has the stride length, he's naturally gifted in his running ability and Bevan French is similar too.
"There's two attributes to a fast runner in rugby league. One is acceleration and we've seen guys like Michael Jennings over the years who are unbelievable over 40 but then the field opens up and they get run down."
In a scary thought for his opposition, Addo-Carr recently revealed to foxsports.com.au he's started working with Melbourne conditioner and former Olympic sprinter Adam Basil to improve his greatest asset.
With the physical traits of a sprinter and technique of someone who has a background in track, the sky could be the limit.
"Addo-Carr and French are the types who open out and you can't catch them," Knowles said.
"Addo-Carr looks like he's done some track and field.
"He's so relaxed. At top speeds he holds very good positions and is so relaxed doing it. The best sprinters make it look effortless."
Shirvington adds; "If Josh Addo-Carr has had specific speed training, it definitely showed last year.
"I don't think he was as fast at the Tigers. Whether or not the Melbourne system has allowed him to get quicker because he's dropped a bit of weight or is fitter or whatever it is."