Finally revealed: The fastest player in the NRL
Tautau Moga is rugby league's unluckiest player. So how the bloody hell is he also among its quickest?
Despite having had four knee reconstructions since 2012, League Central can reveal the exclusive Telstra Tracker data that has clocked Moga travelling 36km/h this year - or sixth fastest among all NRL players.
The shock result means the resurrected Newcastle centre, who is still only 25, now sits among an eclectic list of 20 flyers - among them NRL rookies, underrated wingers, even a Roosters backrower - ready to challenge Melbourne flyer Josh Addo-Carr for the crown of Fastest Man in Rugby League.
Undoubtedly, Addo-Carr is the quickest athlete anywhere in the code.
Playing against North Queensland in round five, the indigenous flyer was clocked at 38.5km/h - the fastest NRL speed recorded via GPS, ever.
The result makes the NSW Origin star the undeniable No.1 in a debate that, traditionally, has a small cast of usual suspects, including Roosters fullback James Tedesco, South Sydney centre James Roberts and Manly megastar Tom Trbojevic.
However, according to the numbers provided by Telstra Tracker, those getting closest to Addo-Carr this year are Wests Tigers winger David Nofoaluma (36.7km/h), Roosters centre Latrell Mitchell (36.6km/h) and livewire St George Illawarra fullback Matt Dufty (36.5km/h).
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Elsewhere, three NRL rookies have also catapulted themselves into the debate.
Melbourne utility Ryan Papenhuyzen and Canberra winger Bailey Simonsson have recorded times that sit inside the top 10, while Bronson Xerri is the fastest man at Cronulla.
Other shock entries include Raiders No.6 Jack Wighton and Roosters backrower Victor Radley.
Undoubtedly, though, the most surprising name remains Moga, the seemingly jinxed Newcastle centre who, in eight seasons in the NRL, has played just 65 games, churned through four clubs, and also ruptured his ACL four times - most recently in round four last year while scoring a try against St George Illawarra.
Retired Olympic sprinter and Fox League analyst Matt Shirvington described Moga's results as "amazing".
And NSW Origin head of performance Hayden Knowles joked: "You'd almost think somebody has switched his GPS reading with Kalyn Ponga."
Shirvington says the debate about rugby league's fastest man is over.
Despite bulking up significantly this year, the Storm winger is almost 2km/h faster than the rest of the field, while also having a 100m sprint time of 10.75 seconds.
"So when it comes to top speed, yes, the debate is over," Shirvington said. "And the numbers prove it.
"Even just looking at The Fox, he boasts the modern sprinter's shape. You put him on a track with an elite sprint group, he fits in."
Knowles agrees: "It's apt he has those wings tattooed onto his calves. I think the data is just confirming what we all thought was true. Over 100m, Josh Addo-Carr is the game's fastest player. There is nobody beating him."
How does a fella push for the Fastest Man tag after four knee reconstructions?
"Amazing," Shirvington said. "Not only his coming back from four reconstructions, but coming back as one of the game's fastest players this year.
"And who knows? Maybe he was going to be a 38km/h runner until the surgery. Perhaps that has brought him back to the pack. But my guess is forced professionalism has a lot to do with it."
"After a reconstruction, your professionalism tends to go up," the Olympian said. "Suddenly you're being forced to do things like manage diet better, and undertake countless rehab exercises you'd never usually bother with. I think that has a lot to do with his now balancing that power-to-weight ratio really well."
Shirvington said reconstructions could also improve sprint times, surprisingly, by tightening a knee joint.
"Which sounds weird when you're talking about moving faster," he said. "But in a lot of ways, the stiffer your joint the better you transfer power through to the ground.
"So those reconstructions, they could actually be giving Moga a transference of power he didn't have before."
The Wests Tigers winger has clocked the second-fastest time in the NRL this year. And why?
"Controls his speed better than most in the game," Shirvington said.
"Dave mightn't always look that fast out on the field, but when the ball is available he's not only there to take it but carrying a little extra speed up his sleeve.
"And the ability to have that extra speed available, ensuring you can execute the play, it makes him a valuable player."
Another surprise entrant at No.3, ahead of even fellow Rooster Tedesco.
"And it's because Latrell has the Usain Bolt Factor - really long legs," Shirvington said. "Usain was never faster than anyone else, but he covered more ground per step than anybody. He was covering 100m in 40 strides, while the rest of the field were doing up to 48."
Shirvington said Mitchell's sizzling time was also due to his "confidence" in Roosters No.6 Luke Keary.
"Latrell knows if he can find space at pace, Keary gets him the ball," he said.
"So he runs for his life. While other guys may be faster, they're focused on trying to run the play. Latrell's confidence in Keary allows him to move with all the shackles off."
Already the fastest player at his new club South Sydney, Shirvington believes The Jet could be the biggest speed improver come finals time.
"Fastest accelerator in the game," Shirvo said of the centre who has battled both Achilles issues and a switch of clubs.
"In terms of physique, Jimmy's like those old-school American power starters I used to line up against. Guys like Maurice Greene and Jon Drummond. He just hasn't had the chance to show what he can really do yet this year."
While Shirvington was "really surprised" by some of names on the Telstra Tracker list, it also has a host of usual suspects such as Knights superstar Kalyn Ponga, Warriors No.1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Tedesco.
"Although Teddy, through a combination of genetics and the knee surgeries, is probably the least technical of the lot," Shirvington said.
"And in some ways that actually helps. He's difficult to defend because of that unorthodox running style."
Shirvington said it was no surprise to see three NRL newbies - Papenhuyzen, Simonsson and Xerri - among the game's quickest.
"At any NRL club, some of the fastest guys are the younger ones," he said.
"They haven't put on any size yet, they're still playing with light weight and fast feet. I'm a big fan of Papenhuyzen and really interested to see how he goes after adding some size because managing an increase in weight while maintaining your speed, it's one of the hardest things to do in footy."
THIS BIG MAN CAN REALLY FLY
Rising Roosters enforcer Victor Radley has posted the fastest sprint time of any NRL forward this season.
While Rabbitohs hooker Damien Cook is widely considered to be rugby league's quickest forward - and would likely start favourite in any NRL Fastest Forward foot race - it is Radley who has the No.1 time, according to Telstra Tracker.
With a shock reading of 35.3km/h, the Clovelly product isn't only the fastest forward in the game but 13th among all NRL players.
Quizzed on the sizzling result, Fox League analyst Matt Shirvington credited Radley's time to his playing hooker for extended periods as a replacement for the injured Jake Friend.
"Vic's role for the Roosters has changed this year," Shirvington said.
"He's spent a lot of time at hooker and, given how fast the Roosters like to play at their attacking best, I think that has had an impact on his Telstra Tracker numbers.
"Everyone knows he's a champion player, a real hitman.
"But given the amount of time Friend has been out this year, Radley's role has become more of an impact runner at hooker. And he's done a great job adapting.
"He has always had really good pace but in the past he has been restricted to how he uses it.
"Now, though, there's an opportunity to really burn guys out of dummy-half and the numbers prove that."
Despite the result, Shirvington said he still considered Cook and fellow Rabbitoh James Roberts as the fastest accelerators in the game.
OFFICIAL SPEED TRACKER
1. Josh Addo-Carr 38.5 km/h
2. David Nofoaluma 36.7 km/h
3. Latrell Mitchell 36.6 km/h
4. Matt Dufty 36.5 km/h
5. Suliasi Vunivalu 36.1 km/h
6. Tautau Moga 36.0 km/h
7. Ryan Papenhuyzen 35.8 km/h
8. James Tedesco 35.7 km/h
9. Jack Wighton 35.6 km/h
10. Bailey Simonsson 35.5 km/h
11. Kayln Ponga 35.5 km/h
12. Blake Ferguson 35.5 km/h
13. Victor Radley 35.3 km/h
14. Edrick Lee 35.3 km/h
15. Te Maire Martin 35.3 km/h
16. James Roberts 35.2 km/h