The 18th Man column: Who have been the fastest wingers?

Our 18th Man Columnists tackle three questions...
Brett DallasBrett Dallas
Brett Dallas

The top three quickest wingers over 50 metres-plus you’ve seen live, in order. go...

Alex Graham: I think first on almost everybody’s list will be Martin Offiah. His famous try at Wembley ‘94 by almost strolling past Alan Tait typified how quick he was. The other two choices are really difficult, on paper Ex-Hull, Salford, Huddersfield and Catalans winger Jodie Broughton was probably one of the fastest in a race but as a rugby league player he was limited and it wasn’t often that he was able to create the space to be seen in full-flight. I’ll go with two easy options who were around in Super League at the same time and who created the ‘’who’s fastest?’’ talking point in that era, Brett Dallas then Darren Albert. Both incredibly quick players and it was almost a foregone conclusion that a try was scored the second either had an inch of open space.

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Robert Kenyon: 1. Jason Robinson, 2. Brett Dallas, 3. Mark Preston

Sean Lawless: Top three quickest wingers have got to be Martin Offiah – see 1994, Wembley and all that – the way he draws in Tait, teases him and then burns him for pace. Secondly, I would say Liam Marshall, I have the Magic Weekend try in my mind against Warrington in which he made Josh Charnley look like a second rower, plodding in pursuit. Finally, it would have to be Brett Dallas, he was just out and out pace and a constant threat. His try against Warrington in the 2004 Challenge Cup semi-final is a great example.

Jon Lyon: The first three that come to mind would be Offiah, Robinson and Dallas. I’d imagine Offiah is the fastest over a longer distance. I remember Lee Oudenryn beating him in a foot race as a one off but I would imagine more often than not Offiah would beat anyone over the length of a pitch.

Robinson had ridiculous acceleration and was usually fast enough to keep ahead of the then chasing pack. Dallas regularly went the length of the field and once away was never caught.

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Of the current crop Bevan French must have a chance of breaking into that group and Liam Marshall is rarely collared once in the clear. Anthony Sullivan was pretty quick for Saints, but seemed to do most of his running across the pitch rather than towards the try line.

Darren Wrudd: Over 50 metres, now that’s a good one. I think Regan Grace takes some beating from a standstill, clocked as the fastest player in 2019 he holds the title and is a total nightmare to defend against with tired legs.

Secondly I cannot forget Brett Dallas. His acceleration was explosive and he relied on simple pace to beat his opponents.

No fancy side steps and jumps, he just rounded full backs for fun.

But I suspect that most will remember Billy Whizz !

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Jason Robinson was a joy to behold if you were a Wigan fan, but a terror if you had any other colours on.

I always said that he could go from a standstill to full pace in two steps, like being shot out of a canon. This gave him an amazing turn of pace to embarrass many a defender. Add to that his jinking run and the opposition full back often stood no chance at all.

A number of Wigan greats have shared messages of support on the club’s social media platforms. Which was your favourite and which ex-player would you most like to hear from?

Alex Graham: I challenged Wigan on Twitter earlier in the week to get a message from my all time Wigan idol, Henry Paul and a few days later they responded with his message. Top work!

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Another player I’d like to see a message from is the notorious Kelvin Skerrett. His pantomime villain role often overshadowed what a great player he was but it would be great to see and hear one of the biggest characters from the 90s era.

Robert Kenyon: I liked Steve Renouf’s message, he’s a living legend and he seems to hold his time with Wigan in high regard. I’d like to hear from Kelvin Skerrett, you never hear from him ever. He was a cult hero in the early 90’s and who can forget his superman punch on Stuart Cummins? Other than Skerrett maybe Sam Panapa or Trent Barrett.

Sean Lawless: Seeing Andrew Farrell on Good Friday was fantastic, he remains my favourite all time Wigan player and when he speaks, you listen.

It’s great to hear from ex players and know that they are still taking notice of what is happening at Wigan but for me, hearing Farrell telling us to eat fish – was brilliant!

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Jon Lyon: It’s been great to hear from so many legends wishing us all good health, and also good to hear that for many it was such a memorable part of their careers. I was made up to hear from Frano Botica as he’s not someone I’ve heard much about for a long time in terms of what he’s up to and he looked really well.

I’d love to hear from Brett Kenny to see how he’s doing with his own health issues. I started watching Wigan in 1985 and only saw him play live a handful of times but is still the most graceful player I’ve ever seen.

Fingers crossed he’s doing well and hopefully all these ex-Wiganers can see from the comments how much they still mean to us fans.

Darren Wrudd: I must admit that I only really use Twitter and that is quite limited to my rugby and a few friends.

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But I have found Jackson Hastings to be a proper breath of fresh air.

He is so positive in his messages and has time it would seem to answer so many people and send best wishes. A sample from his tweets, please forgive me Jackson, is as follows: ‘Best thing I’ve done is reach out and ask for help, seen a lot of negative tweets, it’s a rank time for us all. If anyone needs a chat I’m here. I’m absolutely no expert but I’m still face timing a therapist twice a week and feel great. Here if needed, in it together!’

I get a real sense that he speaks from the heart and is sincere in his comments. Well done Jackson, a bright light in the darkness.

As for who it would be good to hear from next, one of my all time favourites at this club is Bill Ashurst.

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Many of you will have heard some of his stories at one function or another as he has done so much for our game at every level and continues to bring on our young stars, the guy is brilliant with a great sense of humour and it would be fantastic to hear from him.

If you could choose one Super League game to be shown again in its entirety again on Sky Sports, which would it be?

Alex Graham: It would be the 2003 final eliminator match vs Leeds at Headingley. I can still remember the electric atmosphere on the packed Western Terrace and the intensity of that game for the full 80 minutes with the winner heading straight to Old Trafford.

There are very few tries celebrated as much as Brian Carney’s full length effort and I still remember the nerves whilst trying to cling on for victory as Keith Senior and Rob Burrow made last minute breaks to try and rescue the game.

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In hindsight it was a fantastic game to watch although it wasn’t during those last five minutes, I can assure you!

Robert Kenyon: I’d like to go for the 28 - 29 victory over Saints in 2001 at Knowsley Road. The one where Andy Farrell slotted a drop goal to seal the victory.

Sean Lawless: The one game I would love to see again and I am being awkward, is a BBC Challenge Cup game! The 2011 semi-final between Wigan and St Helens at Warrington was a classic.

It is the game in which I think Maguire’s Wigan were at the top of their powers. However, if it had to be a Super League game, it would have to be the 2007 comeback win against Bradford in the play-offs.

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Jon Lyon: Very tough question. Right now I’d happily watch the worst Super League game, such are my withdrawal symptoms. There have been some great battles between us, Bradford, Leeds and Saints, plus the Hull derbies are often nail biters. Wigan’s last minute win over Saints in 2011 would be right up there, as would the play off game against Bradford when we came back from 30-6 down to win 31-30.

I think I’d get the most pleasure from watching the 2013 Grand Final again.

To come back in a final from 16-2 down against probably the best team Warrington have had in the Super League era was incredible.

It was all the sweeter after Ben Westwood’s cowardly punch on Blake Green, who had to play with one eye shut for 77 minutes but still pulled the strings in a magical victory, sealed by a try for Pat Richards in his final game for the club.

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Darren Wrudd: It would have to be the Saints-Wigan derby at Knowsley Road in 2004.

Yes, that’s the one with the massive scrap that saw Terry Newton and Jon Wilkin both sin binned.

Newton I think just because of his reputation, he could have been on the bench and got the yellow card from 50 yards away!

A typically wet day, both sides were up for the clash and it was everything a derby should be.

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Brutal, but with passion and skill showing just how much it meant to both sides.

The final score was all even at 21 each and I am just so glad that it was not settled by golden point as is the current trendy way to do things because a draw was well deserved and both teams took something away from the day.

Paul Sculthorpe still denies the famous Farrell comment was aimed at him, but if that one wasn’t the several thousand extras from the Wigan faithful certainly was.

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