Debate about the NRL's fastest player is set to ramp up with Jason Saab and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow under consideration to join Josh Addo-Carr in the Indigenous team for the upcoming All Stars clash.
The trio are among the five quickest players in the NRL and the prospect of having them in his backline, along with 2021's leading tryscorer Alex Johnston, has Indigenous All Stars coach Laurie Daley genuinely excited for the February 12 match against the Maori All Stars at CommBank Stadium.
Addo-Carr, who has joined the Bulldogs this season, recorded the highest speed in the NRL when he clocked 38.5km/h on the Telstra Tracker while playing for Melbourne against North Queensland in 2019.
The Blues and Kangaroos winger was again the NRL's fastest player last season after running 38.1km/h in the Storm's 40-6 round four triumph against the Broncos.
Saab was second after hitting 38km/h on his way to the tryline in Manly's 13-12 defeat of the Warriors and he later told NRL.com that he would like the opportunity to race Addo-Carr and the game's other speedsters to decide who was quickest.
Tabuai-Fidow's fastest run last season was 37.3km/h as he sprinted 65 metres down the left touchline to score in North Queensland's 29-28 round 12 win against the Warriors - the fifth highest speed recorded in 2021 behind Addo-Carr, Saab, Xavier Coates (37.6km/h) and Dom Young (37.4km/h).
However, Saab was unable to chase down Tabuai-Fidow after the Queensland Origin centre picked up a loose ball and ran 90 metres to score during the round 25 clash between the Cowboys and Sea Eagles.
X-Factor: Jason Saab
Saab finished the season as the third highest tryscorer behind Johnston, who scored 30 tries for South Sydney, and Manly fullback Tom Trbojevic (28) after crossing for 26 tries in 27 matches. Addo-Carr was equal fourth, with 23 tries.
“We’re certainly looking to have some speed out wide," Daley said. "Having the likes of Josh Addo-Carr, Jason Saab and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow as candidates is definitely exciting.
"This game is all about showcasing incredible athletic feats and getting the guys to express themselves as players. Speed is such an advantage and hopefully we’ll have lots of it.”
The fastest players of season 2021
Johnston also possesses natural speed and clocked 35.9km/h last season as he smashed the previous NRL record of 25 tries in a season, which was shared by Nathan Blacklock (Dragons 2000), Rhys Wesser (Panthers 2003) and Brett Morris (Dragons 2009).
The Rabbitohs star has been a regular member of the Indigenous All Stars team in recent seasons, along with Addo-Carr, but Saab and Tabuia-Fidow are yet to play in the annual clash, which will be held in Sydney for the first time on February 12.
Saab, who has adopted his step-father's surname, has Aboriginal and Nigerian heritage, while Cairns-born and raised Tabuia-Fidow is of Torres Strait Islander and Samoan descent.
Match Highlights: Indigenous All Stars v Maori All Stars, 2020
Daley and Maori All Stars coach David Kidwell hope to finalise their squads in coming days, with COVID related issues likely to have an impact on the make-up of both teams.
However, Daley and Kidwell have plenty of talent to choose from, with Cronulla recruit Nicho Hynes another emerging star in contention to make his All Stars debut for the Indigenous team.
The Indigenous and Maori men's, women's and touch teams are expected to be announced early next week.
The Indigenous All Stars v Māori All Stars men's, women's and touch matches will be played on Saturday, February 12 at CommBank Stadium.