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Coates' rise from Olympic hopeful to NRL's fastest man

Broncos winger Xavier Coates is officially the fastest man in the NRL so it is no surprise he once dreamed of being an Olympian.

The 19-year-old was clocked by the Telstra Tracker at 36.9km/h when he scored a length-of-the-field intercept try against the Knights, surpassing this season's record of 36.8km/h set by Melbourne speedster Josh Addo-Carr in round two. 

Coates played for Marymount College and Currumbin Eagles on the Gold Coast as a junior where he was coached in both sides by Storm premiership winner Matt Geyer.

Geyer told NRL.com last year that Coates was set to give up league and focus on athletics as a 15-year-old before the following year having a breakout season and eventually being signed by the Broncos.

"Coming through juniors I was really into athletics. I used to do sprint training which helped with my long jump and triple jump," the Papua New Guinea-born teenager said leading into Saturday night's clash with the Titans.

Coates turns on the speed after interception

"Getting that right and cementing those mechanics when I was younger definitely helped coming through the NRL system because I already knew the technique. I've just tried to improve on that. We have the right coaches here at the Broncos to help do that.

"I definitely had goals coming out of high school. I wanted to try and go to the World Juniors. It was a bit far away but I definitely had goals of becoming an Olympic athlete and to try and represent PNG.

"If you set your goals high, you have a lot of time to work towards it and you have a lot of opportunities coming through.

"The thing I learnt coming up was that life never really goes to plan. I didn't expect to be playing for the Broncos at all. I thought I was going to be doing athletics."

Coates said breaking records was the last thing on his mind last Thursday night.

"I tried to do my job. I didn't think too much about it," he grinned.

"The Foxx [Addo-Carr] definitely has me covered, don't worry about that."

Coates, who has been likened in power and style to Greg Inglis and even given the nickname "Little GI" by Broncos teammates, also looked up to former Titans speedster David Mead.

"As a kid, because I was born in PNG and brought up in a PNG family, it was definitely David Mead," he said.

"Outside the PNG system, [I looked up to] Greg Inglis. Inglis pretty much tore the comp apart.

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"Those two were my idols. I don't think you can really compare me to GI. I haven't really done too much or shown as much potential as GI.

"Last year, when I played NRL I was a bit inconsistent with my performances. You can see when you watch those games that I had a lot to improve on.

"You can't drop off at any time because as soon as you drop off you get put under the pump."

Issac Luke is at the other end of his career but the veteran hooker is getting to live out his childhood dream of following in the footsteps of his childhood idol Steve Renouf and wear the Broncos jersey.

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The 33-year-old Kiwi hooker has made a lot of other people happy after his mid-season move from the Dragons, especially his father and Brisbane-raised wife.

The 275-game veteran will line up against the Titans in his second game for Brisbane.

"Steve Renouf was one of my favourite players and I used to love watching him and all his games. I played in the same position when I was younger and had the same headgear," Luke said.

"My dad is a Wally Lewis fan and that translated into us watching Alfie [Langer]. He's here now [as assistant coach], so I get star-struck around him.

Broncos hooker Issac Luke.
Broncos hooker Issac Luke. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

"In 2005 I met my wife in Brissie and after that, I wanted to eventually go to Brisbane.

"I'd play prop here if I had to. I just wanted to don the jersey. I flew in Monday, trained on Tuesday and rang my dad and said 'we've fulfilled our dream. We've finally got the jersey'.

"It was pretty special for me and my old man. More importantly, it was a family move to be able to bring our kids home and my wife home too."

The Broncos have signed Luke and 33-year-old premiership winner Ben Te'o to provide experience to their young squad and to reverse what is now a worrying four-game losing streak for coach Anthony Seibold.

"You bring the right people in, the right experience in and the right culture in and put it all together. It may take time," Luke said.

"Seibs and myself spoke about it. It is not just going to happen. It is a building phase and hopefully I am part of it. They brought Benny [Te'o] in and he was part of the rebuilding at South Sydney.

"When Madge [Michael Maguire] came in 2012 [to coach the Rabbitohs] he changed the whole franchise. I know that is what Seibs is trying to do here.

"The only people on the field is us. Only we can decide whether we want to be there or not, and keep ourselves accountable."