Sharks speed machine Valentine Holmes.
Sharks speed machine Valentine Holmes. JULIAN SMITH

Who's the fastest in the NRL?

SPEED always wins.

If you've ever been anywhere near a locker room, you've probably heard coaches say, "You can't tackle what you can't catch."

And while running style can be adjusted to get the maximum result, for the most part, speed can't be taught.

That's why speed is such a focal point of recruiting in sport.

Whether it's the NFL, NBA, rugby or league, speed is such a vital tool.

Changing direction and stepping at speed is another thing altogether but for the purpose of this investigation, we have uncovered the lightning legs of the NRL.

Meet the fastest men in the game.


Broncos speedster James Roberts.
Broncos speedster James Roberts. DAVE HUNT


This won't come as any surprise but Brisbane's fastest man is James Roberts.

The Broncos do speed testing over 40 metres and the 23-year-old is a clear winner, according to Wayne Bennett's staff.


In the nation's capital, the quickest over 20 metres is back-up fullback Zac Santo.

While the Raiders are keeping the times close to their chest, last year Jordan Rapana was the quickest over 10 metres.

The Raiders only test speed over a short distance, so they can focus on a player's speed off the mark and acceleration.

Last season, Rapana recorded 1.55 seconds over 10 metres, while fullback Jack Wighton clocked 1.59sec.


While there's plenty of pace in the Bulldogs' backline, the fastest player is a little-known teenager.

According to the Bulldogs' training staff, Reimis Smith, the son of former Kiwi international Tyran Smith, is the quickest over 100 metres.

The 19-year-old made his NRL debut on the wing last year, scoring two tries against Canberra.


You could probably guess the winner at the Sharks. Test flyer Valentine Holmes is a speed machine.

According to Sharks physical performance manager Andrew Gray, the fullback's explosiveness is largely thanks to his powerful leg drive and low centre of gravity.

"Other than having a maximum speed that is higher than 10 metres per second, Valentine also has an ability to maintain very high speed while changing direction," Gray said.

"This is due in part to his exceptional co-ordination, lower body strength and a naturally low centre of gravity."


With the likes of Jarryd Hayne, Ash Taylor, Dan Sarginson and Anthony Don in their side, you'd be forgiven for expecting one of those names to take the crown as fastest in the team.

But Gold Coast head of performance Matt Ford nominated 104kg wrecking ball Konrad Hurrell as the man who clocked the quickest numbers during the pre-season.

"We monitor our players' max speed within training sessions on a consistent basis," Ford said.

"This pre-season, Konrad Hurrell has clocked the quickest speed via GPS at just over 35km/h."


With Tom Trbojevic in the team, you'd think it was a no-brainer that the fullback would claim bragging rights as fastest man on the northern beaches.

That was the case until a few months ago, when the club signed Australian sevens flyer Peter Schuster. The 24-year-old clocks in a time of 4.9 seconds over 40 metres.


Last season, Marika Koroibete took out the honours in the 40-metre sprint but with the winger playing rugby this year, a new king has been crowned.

While Suliasi Vunivalu has speed to burn, it's a new addition to the squad that's taken the mantle in former Wests Tigers winger Josh Addo-Carr.

"Marika naturally knew how to run, where Josh is an athlete who's been taught how to run," Cooper Cronk said. "He's electric. Marika's got that speed, acceleration and physicality into the line and Josh has that speed and acceleration to move, pivot and finish."


Newcastle's physical performance manager Tony Ayoub has revealed 19-year-old fullback Nick Meaney as the club's fastest player over 40 metres.

A product of Ballina, Meaney was named the Knights' NYC player of the year last season.

"Nick has an athletic background and this, coupled with his hunger, is the driving force behind him improving in all facets of his game," Ayoub said.


North Queensland records its speeds in 10, 40 and 100-metre measurements.

Kalyn Ponga and Jake Granville are the Cowboys' quickest over 10 metres, while 20-year-old flyer Gideon Gela-Mosby is the quickest over 40 and 100 metres.


While the Eels don't actually test player speed at training, legendary strength and conditioning coach Ronnie Palmer revealed Bevan French is the team's fastest player over 20 metres.

But the fullback isn't the winner over 100 metres. Those bragging rights go to rep centre Michael Jennings.


While the smart money would be on Matt Moylan or perhaps Josh Mansour, Penrith training staff have declared Waqa Blake the king of the foot of the mountain.

Blake, 22, clocked their fastest time for the 100-metre sprint at training.


South Sydney's head of high performance Paul Devlin revealed that 22-year-old winger Alex Johnston is the speed machine in Redfern.

A former Australian representative, Johnston's data from pre-season testing shows that he covers remarkable ground per second.

"Our fastest player is Alex Johnston," Devlin said. "Alex runs 10.2 metres per second. His incredible reactive strength allows him to do that".


James Tedesco of the Tigers.
James Tedesco of the Tigers. JULIAN SMITH


It should come as no surprise that the fullback takes this honour.

Marcus Kain, head of physical performance at the Tigers, revealed that James Tedesco is a natural speed demon but has improved his times after tweaking his technique.

"James Tedesco up to 40 metres is the quickest at the Wests Tigers," Kain said.

"Naturally, James was born with speed. Working hard technically on him session after session allows him to maintain and ultimately increase his pure speed.

"Acceleration phase is first (and) then we work hard on his transition phase, followed by his top end or 'pure' speed phase."


Jai Field is one of the most exciting rookies in the game.

With a background in touch football, his quick feet have been causing all sorts of havoc in the 20s competition and are leaving his Dragons teammates eating dust on the training paddock.

The Red V do their sprint testing over 30 and 40 metres and the 19-year-old claimed the fastest times for both.


Last year Blake Ferguson clocked 4.82 seconds over 40 metres but the Roosters no longer record sprint times as part of their training.


The Warriors record several times as part of their training, with a focus on 10 and 30-metre sprints.

What will shock you is that two of the three fastest players over 10 metres are forwards.

Ken Maumalo is the only back who features on the short list, with Sam Lisone and Pat Sipley recording the fastest times over 10 metres, although we haven't been given their times.

Over 30 metres, the backline comes into play, with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Tui Lolohea, Shaun Johnson and Holden Cup winger Lewis Soosemea the quickest.

News Corp Australia

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