With a blinding personal best time of 10.6 seconds over 100 metres, USC Barbarians winger Shayden Stevens has laid claim as the fastest man in Sunshine Coast Rugby Union. Photo Patrick Woods
With a blinding personal best time of 10.6 seconds over 100 metres, USC Barbarians winger Shayden Stevens has laid claim as the fastest man in Sunshine Coast Rugby Union. Photo Patrick Woods

The USC speed demon ‘you need a gun to catch’

With a jaw-dropping time of 10.66 over the 100m, Uni's Shayden Stevens can lay claim to being Sunshine Coast Rugby Union's fastest man.

But who else is chasing the pack?

"I don't think so," Stevens laughed when asked if anyone has the pace to match him in the comp.

"There are some fast guys but I think I have them."

USC Barbarians winger Shayden Stevens went a pre-season at the Canterbury Bulldogs and wants to go far in either league or union. Photo: Patrick Woods
USC Barbarians winger Shayden Stevens went a pre-season at the Canterbury Bulldogs and wants to go far in either league or union. Photo: Patrick Woods

Stevens is only a second slower than Usain Bolt's world record time of 9.58 seconds.

The Palmerston North-born Stevens, 20, said he started taking his speed seriously in Year 10.

He's been to state and national sprint meets and his set of wheels won him a development contract with the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs.

But when COVID-19 struck, he was forced to return home.

"It's a funny story as to how he ended up with us," coach Brad Tronc explained.

"He had come back from Sydney because of COVID and was doing sprint training over at the tracks at USC and popped his head over."

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With at least eight tries from as many games for Barbarians, including the match winner against Noosa, USC have a flyer to scare the daylight out of opposition.

However, it's not the only thing in his locker.

"He has a high skill level too," Tronc said.

"He knows how to work off the ball for space and he has set up tries from the left wing, going to the right and passing to the right wing to score. That's rare.

"Just that general awareness and ability to find space comes naturally."

Stevens has bold ambitions to play at a high level.

"League or union, I just want to play," he said.

"To go to a high level in either, that would be my dream. I'd love it."

Caboolture coach Jason de Kok said from an opposition perspective, there is little one can do to stop the speed freaks.

"I don't know his name but we have met him," de Kok said of Stevens.

"You'd need a gun to catch him. There's no substitute for absolute speed.

"Caloundra's fullback (Sami Vereniki) he is the fastest thing too, so quick and elusive, all of Caloundra's back three are fast.

"You can't catch what you can't see, it's a nightmare."

Ready, set, go for Shayden Stevens. Photo: Patrick Woods
Ready, set, go for Shayden Stevens. Photo: Patrick Woods

 

Meet the 10 Sunshine Coast Rugby Union players in contention.

Caboolture Snakes - Anthony Evans, Nick Frost, Steve Panipasa

 

Anthony Evans playing at the National Youth Touch Football Championships at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
Anthony Evans playing at the National Youth Touch Football Championships at Sunshine Coast Stadium.

"Anthony Evans our outside centre, he has really quick feet and can run," de Kok said.

"Two league players who joined us, Nick Frost and Steve Panipasa, they are hard to beat.

"Nick is difficult to tackle, he doesn't realise how fast he is."

Noosa Dolphins - Jacob Spark

 

QCQ Capras Colts player Jacob Spark playing in Rockhampton.
QCQ Capras Colts player Jacob Spark playing in Rockhampton.

"Our new winger Jacob, he is rapid," assistant coach Josh Mason said.

"He came down to us from the Central Queensland Capras in Rockhampton.

"We had a footrace at training a few weeks back and he won it comfortably.

"I don't know what sort of time he would get but he'd be competitive over the 100m."

Spark, 19, is something of a sporting all-rounder.

"He's originally a swimmer and was in the Commonwealth Games squad last year for butterfly," coach Mick Phelan said.

"He can swim, playing league or union and he can motor."

Wynnum Bugs - Grant Long and Brandon Vitale

"Two of our older guys are pretty quick, our fullback and winger," coach Matt Myers said.

"Brandon has that raw pace and power, the explosive speed.

"Where has Grant is more elusive and maintains the speed. For a 35-year-old he is doing all right."

Caloundra Lighthouses Sami Vereniki and Harry Parker

 

Samisoni Vereniki is the Caloundra Lighthouses x-factor who is tipped to be a sensation again in 2020. Photo Patrick Woods
Samisoni Vereniki is the Caloundra Lighthouses x-factor who is tipped to be a sensation again in 2020. Photo Patrick Woods

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"Sami or Harry Parker would be the two quickest, Dwayne Burrows too," coach Geoff Ingram said.

"Sami has that explosive speed, the change in direction kind of guy, that's' what makes him so dangerous.

"Whereas Harry is more a straight line runner."

Maroochydore Swans - Elliot Hagen and Tom Cox

 

Tom Cox streaks away for Sunshine Coast Stingrays in 2010. Photo: Nicola Brander
Tom Cox streaks away for Sunshine Coast Stingrays in 2010. Photo: Nicola Brander

"Oh hands down, we definitely don't have anyone with wheels like that, that is pretty damn quick," coach Ben Radmall said.

"No one would get close to that.

"Tom Cox and Elliott Hagen, back in their day they would be competitive, not none of us would get close to 10."



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