The man facilitating sporting stars' need for speed

By Roger Fabri

There are a lot of people out there working on one-percenters. Coach whisperers, hypnotists, meditation experts. I don't have the luxury the others do, where the results can be intangible. I have a stopwatch and that rules my life.

I am a sprint coach, with a staff of 16 coaches, specialising in making elite sports stars quicker. In State of Origin I six players I’ve worked with were on the field.

I’ve worked with Jarryd Hayne from the start and helped him with his break though to NFL. I helped Sonny Bill Williams transition from league to union and I’ve worked with David Warner on his pursuit to turn twos into threes.

It’s usually athletes who are down on confidence who will try everything to improve their performance. Then you have a special group who are great athletes who say they can be the greatest. I see a lot of them.

Sonny Bill Williams is a good example of a great athlete prepared to do everything to become better.

Roger Fabri helped Sonny Bill Williams' transition from rugby league to union.
All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams. Pic: Getty

All you need to do is watch him take his shirt off - he looks like an Adonis. You think, ‘bloody hell, this guy's paying attention to everything.’ Eats well, trains well, very focused, dedicated, all the values that a top athlete would desire, he displays them.

So it was a challenge to improve him. I have an athlete who's completely well-rounded, who's very athletic, and I had to find a way to improve him to keep him coming back. And we found quite a lot.

That was his transition from moving from Rugby League to Rugby Union, and I think he was moving from the forwards to the backs, so speed became a big part of his game.

I met Josh Addo-Carr when I was at the Sharks. He was in the lower grades and I heard about him and that he was quick. I only spoke to him in the grandstand once, but nothing really eventuated from it until much later and he was at Melbourne.

I can’t believe he ended up being the player he was, and I think Craig Bellamy takes a lot of credit for that. But he’s another of those athletes who didn’t sit content with what he had but sought improvement with a level of enthusiasm and his passion that you don't see very often.

Two weeks after winning the 2018 Grand Final almost everybody else in the NRL was off partying, in celebration mode. Josh was back with me, working on his speed.

Josh Addo-Carr and David Warner have both worked with Roger Fabri. Pic:
Josh Addo-Carr and David Warner have both worked with the renowned sprint coach. Pic: Getty

I've worked with Jarryd Hayne ever since he was graded. Before I started coaching fulltime I was training him on the side, part-time. What Jarryd did, going from the NRL to the NFL, was Herculean.

I was the first person he told that he was going. He called me and said ‘You know, Roger, I'm done. I'm going to go over and try NFL’. I thought it was a joke.

I encouraged him but I didn't think there was any validity to it whatsoever. I knew the coin that he was on here, and I certainly knew what he had done here, and of course he had a lot to offer.

But he went over there completely raw, no idea on anything, and to make a roster, was one of the greatest achievements I’ve seen in sport. I know for a fact that at the start the 49ers thought it was a gimmick.

To see what he did in a pre-season game, and he did it in more than one occasion and then get picked on a roster, that's a Herculean task.

Before he went I was working on his straight line speed and he ended up in the Top Ten when he went into the combine. Then we worked on his change of direction speed.

In the off-season the players have a green light to do want they want in terms of extra work. And that’s really where most of the magic happens, because I can get consistency and I can get specification. I don't have to work in conjunction with an existing program.

They can dedicate good time to it, I can take my time and dot every 'i' and cross every 't' as opposed to just picking up somebody in the season where you've got to try and make miracles happen. I'm not God, I can't just after one session bless you and suddenly you're so quick.

Read the full PlayersVoice article here