The NRL stars who could make the Commonwealth Games.
The NRL stars who could make the Commonwealth Games.

The NRL stars fast enough to compete in the Comm Games

IT'S Australia's blessing and its curse.

With such a rich array of sports for talented kids to play and aspire to become professionals at, our best athletes can often be found on a football field or a netball court, rather than an athletics track.

There are countless tales of men and women who carve out a career in one sport but have 'what if' moments about others.

The NRL is no different, with a list of the country's top rugby league players having excelled in track and field as well as other Olympic sports when they were younger.

You can see it in the super-quick wingers when they make a break and stride out and in the powerful forwards who possess the strength of 10 ordinary men.

On the eve of the Commonwealth Games, Olympic sprinter and Fox League host Matt Shirvington has cast the net across the NRL and identified the players who, in another life, could have been wearing green and gold over the next fortnight.

Josh Addo-Carr is a very natural sprinter.
Josh Addo-Carr is a very natural sprinter.

JOSH ADDO-CARR (100m/200m sprint)

Shirvo says: There's no one in the NRL right now who's faster than Josh Addo-Carr. I think with his stride length, his general fitness, he's just so fast. Of what you can see from him technically, with a bit of training he would be every chance of being selected in a relay. He'd be a chance of competing with Australia's best current sprinters.

JAMES ROBERTS (100m sprint)

Shirvo says: Over 40 metres I still think Jimmy the Jet is the fastest player in the NRL. His explosive power is phenomenal but he probably doesn't sustain it over the 100 metres. I'd put that down to the specific training he's had. Give him a couple of months of training for a little bit of speed-endurance, which is the ability to hold that top level speed, he may respond better than anyone.

WAQA BLAKE (100m/200m sprint)

Shirvo says: Some of the linebreaks he had and the form and technique he has been showing this season has been pretty amazing. He might be the surprise on this list but in terms of the here and now he's on top of his game and his speed is right up there.

Waqa Blake has looked faster in 2018.
Waqa Blake has looked faster in 2018.

MOSES MBYE (100m sprint)

Shirvo says: Another potential surprise for this list but I've been working with the Bulldogs this year and Mbye is electric. Rugby league players are trained specifically for the acceleration phase rather than the top-speed phase but if you gave him equal opportunity to be a 100 metre runner I think he'd be a great prospect.

JARRYD HAYNE (110m hurdles)

Shirvo says: He's not looking at his sharpest at the moment but Hayne has a strong background in athletics as a national schoolboy champion in the hurdles. He's shown when he trains for it that he has explosive acceleration and good top level speed and clearly to be a national champion in hurdles at any age level you have to have the technique for it. This Comm Games wouldn't be the right one for him but it would have been fun to see him compete at his best.

Jarryd Hayne is an incredible athlete at his best.
Jarryd Hayne is an incredible athlete at his best.

BEVAN FRENCH (200m sprint)

Shirvo says: A bit like Josh Addo-Carr, French has the longer stride length which is suited to the 200 metres and with the right training this could be his distance. His efficiency in ground coverage is better than a guy like James Roberts so he'll have easy speed for longer.

ALEX JOHNSTON (200m sprint)

Shirvo says: For exactly the same reason as French, Johnston could make a fist of the 200m sprint. He's in the conversation as one of the outright fastest players in the NRL but he's got a technique that allows him to eat the ground with his long stride.

TOM TRBOJEVIC (400m sprint)

Shirvo says: His flat speed's probably not the fastest in the NRL but with his stature and his fitness, over 400 or even 800 he'd probably go pretty well. You don't need to have the top, top speed that the 100 guys have to do well in the 400 and 800. He's an 80-minute player, fullback, could athletic body shape, you know he's fast enough. He's the type of guy who would be good in those longer sprint type events.

Tom Trbojevic returns from injury.
Tom Trbojevic returns from injury.

BILLY SLATER (400m sprint)

Shirvo says: The main reason I'd put Billy in this category is because he'd fight his guts out. He's mentally tough and it's no secret that the 400m and 800m are two of the toughest events to train for. So those guys with decent motors and the head space to do it are good candidates. The 400 and 800 are also quite tactical, you've got to manage your energy pretty well. Billy does that really well and that comes into the realm of game management a bit - having intelligence and knowing when to conserve energy and when to put the pedal down.

SHIRVO'S OTHER SPRINTING SMOKIES

Yohan Blake, who is the second fastest sprinter of all-time, would be barely 5ft 8in, 5ft 9in (incidentally he's listed as 5ft 11in in some of his online profiles), so when you consider that and that the NRL players are a product of their pathway it's not silly to throw in someone like Matt Dufty. He could have equal opportunity with the right training. You could say he's a little bit smaller but it doesn't mean he wouldn't have the pace. Jai Field is another one. He's not playing much first grade but he's got some serious pace, which you see every time he gets on the field.

TEPAI MOEROA (Shot put)

Shirvo says: At one stage there was talk that he was looking to try to qualify for the 2016 Olympics so clearly he's a huge talent. He ended up drawing a line through that goal because he had shoulder problems but his technique, power and strength would give him a good chance of competing at the top level if he shifted his focus away from the NRL and focused on his throwing.

Tepai Moeroa was a prodigious shot put talent as a schoolboy, pictured here at 15.
Tepai Moeroa was a prodigious shot put talent as a schoolboy, pictured here at 15.

KALYN PONGA (high jump)

Shirvo says: He's one of the most talented natural athletes in the competition and for anyone who saw his stunt earlier this season where he flipped off a roof into a pool, clearly he has talents that lie away from the football field. My tongue might be in my cheek a bit but I reckon he'd give the high jump a fair shake.

Shannon Boyd is one of the biggest and strongest NRL players.
Shannon Boyd is one of the biggest and strongest NRL players.

SHANNON BOYD (shot put)

Shirvo says: This one's a little bit more serious than the Ponga hypothetical. Boyd is one of the biggest, most powerful men in the competition and I think he's got some of the attributes that you need to be world class at shot put. He's got giant hands and some serious leg power so I think he could be a very good shot putter.



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