Rugby league fans love a good statistic or two to sink their teeth.
Well, one which stood out like a sore thumb from the weekend’s action at St James’ Park – the home of Newcastle United – was the fastest recorded speed across the six games of the event.
Wigan Warriors’ Bevan French and Jai Field have been renowned for their electric pace, whilst Warrington Wolves’ Matty Ashton has also been in the conversation for fastest Super League flyer.
However, the weekend fixtures showed a surprise Leeds Rhinos man top the charts – winger and captain Ash Handley.
The 26-year-old has become one of Leeds’ most consistent players in recent seasons and is well in with a shout of an England call-up for the World Cup at the end of the year.
Of course, Handley is fighting for a place in Shaun Wane’s reckoning amongst the likes of St Helens star Tommy Makinson, Hull KR winger Ryan Hall and Newcastle Knights’ Dominic Young.
The Leeds man, however, has done his chances no harm with some stellar performances, including on Saturday evening when the Rhinos put Castleford Tigers to the sword in a 34-20 win.
One particular moment stood out in that win, with Handley racing back to stop Greg Eden following an interception on the latter’s ten-metre line as Leeds were attacking.
Handley was able to not only tackle Eden, but force a knock on as the Rhinos man made an incredible effort that epitomised the determination and enthusiasm within this Leeds side under new boss Rohan Smith.
In fact, Handley clocked up a high speed of 36 kilometres per hour – 2.2 quicker than his nearest competitor.
Second place was locked between Warrington pair Josh Thewlis and Ashton, Eden and French who were all able to clock the same top speed of 33.8 km/hour.
But, Rhinos’ Handley was far and away the man at the top.