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Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow turned heads with a blur of pace and four-pointers at the NRL Nines, and it was a similar "blink and you'll miss it" moment of brilliance that prompted the Cowboys to poach him from Queensland Rugby two years ago.

"The Hammer" is being talked up by teammates, punters and pundits as a potential rival to Josh Addo-Carr's claims as the fastest man in the game after lighting up North Queensland's title win in Perth.

Still just 18, and unable to play first grade until at least July unless he is upgraded to a top 30 contract, Tabuai-Fidow has been clocked at an eye-watering 10.85 seconds over 100 metres.

That pure pace, and just one touch of the ball, was all Cowboys recruitment manager Clint Zammit needed to see from the sidelines of a Brisbane Grammar schoolboy rugby game two years ago.

"He was in the Queensland Reds academy at the time but he's the sort of player you see, you take one look at him and you sign him," Zammit told NRL.com.

Hammer nails down North Queensland’s spot in semis

"I actually went down to watch Tom Gilbert (another highly rated teen expected to make his NRL debut this year), who is one of our middle forwards play for Brisbane Grammar.

"But Gilbert was injured that day, and Hamiso's had one touch and scored a try. The way he moved I just said 'who's this kid?'.

"Turns out he's from Cairns, his mum and dad were at the ground and we were able to sign him pretty quickly."

North Queensland have wasted no time locking up Tabuai-Fidow for the long term, signing him until the end of 2022 and bringing him in for his first full-time pre-season this summer.

As a Cairns kid, Tabuai-Fidow said he didn't attract too much attention from league during his early teenage years, so he gave the 15-a-side code a crack.

He landed at Brisbane Grammar – whose alumni includes former Wallabies Stephen Moore and Greg Martin as well as Australian cricketers Ben Cutting and Matthew Renshaw – and promptly lit the place up, scoring 14 tries in seven GPS games before the Cowboys swooped.

"It was pretty hard to move away from my family," Tabuai-Fidow said.

"I was down in Brissie and with the Reds for a little bit, just in their development squad but then the Cows were pretty keen on me.

"The Cowboys wanted to sign me, so I was pretty happy with that, to move back closer to home."

The shift back north led to him graduating from Townsville's Kirwin State High last year, where he broke the 100m sprint record of fellow Cowboys flyer Gideon Gela-Mosby.

Teammates call him "The Hammer" when they can't pronounce his last name, but fellow Nines star Scott Drinkwater reckons a new nickname is on the cards.

"I love him. We heard Vossy [commentator Andrew Voss] called him the Foxx but he wants to be known as the Cheetah. He reckons he’s faster," Drinkwater teased on Saturday.

"They’re always into him at training that we need him to open his speed up but he just goes as fast as he needs to."

The must-see plays from Saturday at the NRL Nines

"I don’t reckon we’ll ever see him open up until the Foxx [Addo-Carr] is chasing him. I’d like to see that someday."

Coach Paul Green is understandably cautious about talking up the youngster, who will progress again this year through the Intrust Super Premiership with Townsville Blackhawks.

And as well as wanting to time himself again over the length of the straight – "I want to know how fast I am now, too" – Tabuai-Fidow is happy to continue his development at a more sedate pace.

"I’ve got no words," Tabuai-Fidow said after the Nines triumph.

"This was my first time playing against men, and it was so good to get the win.

"I hope to play consistent footy in ISP, and if my moment comes hopefully I can get my debut."