NRL's fastest player race for Auckland Nines?

ADRIAN PROSZENKO
Last updated 15:18 23/02/2014
Greg Inglis
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BIG GUNS: Rugby league's biggest names, including Greg Inglis, are set to commit to next year's NRL Nines.

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The Auckland Nines could feature an altogether different dash for cash next year if its promoter goes ahead with a 100-metre race to determine the NRL's fastest man.

Duco Events, the promoter of the inaugural tournament, believes a proposal being finalised by renowned sprint coach Roger Fabri could ''capture the public's interest''.

Determining who is league's fastest man is one of the great talking points, but as yet there has not been a contest to end the debate.

League players Greg Inglis, Jarryd Hayne, Josh Morris and Ben Barba competed in the Gatorade Bolt four years ago, a contest won by rugby's Lachlan Turner. But there has never been an event which pits the speedsters of all 16 NRL clubs against each other.

After the initial success of the Nines, Duco and the NRL are considering ideas to make the second edition even more successful. To that end, Duco director David Higgins confirmed the unique running race would be considered for the 2015 event.

''It would definitely capture the public's interest if it could be done,'' Higgins said. ''A whole lot of things will come into it, like timing, format and criteria, but in principle it's certainly interesting. I'm keeping an open mind, the NRL will look at things such as potential injuries, but I'm sure it will be weighed up.'' Hayne, third in the Gatorade Bolt in a time of 11.20 seconds, is keen to get to the starting line.

''Definitely, I've always said I want to crack 11 seconds, that's something on the bucket list for me,'' he said. ''I'd love to run a 10.9 or something like that, I'd love that opportunity.''

Other possible participants include speedsters Inglis, Barba, Michael Jennings, the Morris twins, Brett and Josh, Akuila Uate and Marika Koroibete. Hayne predicted others would make themselves available.

''I've got no doubt a lot of the boys would love to run a 10.9s or 10.8s,'' he said. ''It takes a lot of work as well, you can't just run it. You need a good four- to five-week period to get up there and get motoring. It's about finding the time to do it.''

The race concept is the brainchild of Fabri, whose client list includes some of the most fleet-footed stars in the game. He has already received interest from a corporate bookmaker keen to sponsor the event.

''The criteria would have to be that they have played at least three NRL games the previous year,'' Fabri said. ''Every club does 40-metre testing at the start of the preseason and I'd like to see the clubs supply the information on the top three, so the fans could then vote for who they would like to see.

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''It would be like the NBA All-Stars in America; the fans get the opportunity to vote for who they want to see. They don't want some guy they have never seen before run in that race and then never see them again.

''Everyone wants to know who is the fastest man in the NRL - not the fastest man in rugby league.''

With many of the stars rested from the Nines indicating their willingness to participate next season, the event shapes as the best opportunity to identify and crown the NRL's fastest man.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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