Ranking the nine fastest men in the history of Australian rugby leagueOne contender is an Olympian, another sprinted in the Commonwealth Games but none of them come close to this man - and he still has gears to go.
Dean Ritchie, Fatima Kdouh and Michael Carayannis
Sydney sprint guru Roger Fabri has boldly predicted that Manly winger Jason Saab will become the fastest player in rugby league’s 113-year history.
And, incredibly, Fabri has claimed he can find another three metres of speed in Saab, who would then be capable of running 100m with an extraordinary top speed of 39km/h.
No other player in rugby league history has hit such sizzling speeds.
“It’s phenomenal,” Fabri said.
Fabri even insisted Saab could reach that dizzy pace by the start of next season.
The leading sprint coach even listed the footy flyers through history who Saab could mow down – namely Ken Irvine, Mike Cleary, Lee Oudenryn, Martin Offiah, Shane Whereat, James Roberts, Darren Clark and Josh Addo-Carr.
Jason Saab still has some gears to go.
Saab, 20, will be ready to blast out of the blocks again in Friday night’s grand final qualifier against South Sydney at Suncorp Stadium.
Fabri predicted Saab — with additional off-season sprint training — could hit 38.5km/h to 39km/h and become the fastest league player ever.
“He will be the fastest footballer that’s ever laced on a boot, the fastest footballer that has ever been. He’s not that far off right now,” Fabri said.
“One thing I can say, and this is obviously my area of expertise, and I’m fortunate to train Saab and ‘Fox’ (Addo-Carr), I feel we still haven’t seen the best of Jason Saab, speed wise.
“My top athletes who run at national level, if they can find a metre in a whole season — and we’re talking at the highest level, even the Olympics — that can be life-changing, but I’m saying Saab can find another three metres.
FOOTY FLYERS - TOP SPEED OVER 100m1 Jason Saab (39 km/hr)
2 Josh Addo-Carr (38.1km/hr)
3 Mike Cleary (37.8 km/hr)
4 Ken Irvine (37.7 km/hr)
5 Darren Clark (36.5 km/hr)
6 Shane Whereat (36.1 km/hr)
7 James Roberts (35.9 km/hr)
8 Martin Offiah (35.8 km/hr)
9 Lee Oudenryn (35.7 km/hr)
^ Predicted top speeds and educated opinion of sprint coach Roger Fabri
“That would bring Saab to 38.5km/h to 39km/h. It’s phenomenal. He’s six feet four, and still hasn’t yet maximised that stride length.
“At the end of the day Saab is blessed with genetics, there’s no doubt about that. There are still flaws in his mechanics but he is still young and it is unusual for someone with such tall limbs to create so much force.
“If I can bring more turnover into that fly speed…he is already leaving people for dead, they won’t see him. Imagine that long stride shortened and having that frequency increased to create more force…how much further he’s going to get away from people.
“We can cross-reference him with guys like Shane Whereat and Darren Clark — they were two high flyers.
“Then there’s Martin Offiah, Lee Oudenryn and Jimmy ‘The Jet’ Roberts and Michael Cleary, who represented Australia at the Commonwealth Games.”
Speedster Ken Irvine scored 212 tries in just 236 games.
Darren Clark, who had a stint with Balmain, finished fourth in the 400m at the Los Angeles Olympics.
Asked to predict a 100m race between current stars Saab, Roberts and Addo-Carr, Fabri said: “At the 40 metre mark, I think the ‘Jet’ would be in front, then by the 70 metre mark, ‘Fox’ would be in front but at the 100 metre I think Saab would win.
“‘Jet’ would run last, Fox would run second.”
After combining opinion with research, Fabri drew up a list of the fastest rugby league players – and their speeds – and rated Saab number one. Fabri listed former champion players Cleary and Irvine third and fourth behind Saab and Addo-Carr.
“The reason we got such a good result with Saab last year was that he had that turmoil with St George (last year) and he had a period in a limbo. Because of that, I got to have to nine weeks with him,” Fabri said. “He was coming three days a week.
“If I can get the same amount of time with him this year as I did last year then we’re going to go pretty close to fulfilling the statements I have just made for the start of next season.”
Oudenryn beat Offiah – here touring with the Great Britain squad - in a foot race at Parramatta Stadium during 1992.
Lee Oudenryn (Parramatta, with ball) breaks away from John Plath (L, Brisbane) 17 July 1994