Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans has fought back tears as he spoke of the legacy of one of rugby league’s greatest all-time players, Bob Fulton, who died aged 74 on Sunday.
- Fulton has been remembered as a giant of Rugby league
- Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans says Fulton left a “massive mark on the game”
- Wayne Bennett describes Fulton as one of the greatest ever rugby league players
As a Kangaroos captain, coach and selector, Fulton’s influence over rugby league was immense.
But his sway at Manly as a premiership-winning coach and captain is impossible to measure.
The news of his passing after a long illness has rocked rugby league, including Sea Eagles players and officials, who were told of his death when they were travelling on the bus on the way to Sunday’s clash with Parramatta.
Following a gutsy 28-6 victory over their fierce rivals at the Western Sydney Stadium, Cherry-Evans said the reality of Fulton’s passing earlier in the day had started to hit home.
“Rugby league can be such a cruel game sometimes, it gives you some of the lowest points but it gives you the highest points,” he said.
“It’s not until after the game that it’s all hit and it’s really saddening.
“He is someone who has made such a massive mark on the game, these moments are never easy to swallow but I hope in some small degree we’ve made his family proud on what will be a difficult day for them.”
Tributes flowed through the day for the revered Immortal, including from long-time rival coach and fellow Australia squad member Wayne Bennett, who put Fulton among the game’s best.
“I’ve seen a lot of players and he was up there with the greatest players I have ever seen in our game,” Bennett said.
“He was a hell of a competitor as well. He was someone that hated to lose as a player and a coach.
“He was a pretty innovative guy as well. A great loss to the game. He was Manly through and through.”
Two-time premiership coach Phil Gould described Fulton as a “mercurial player” and a “great coach”.
‘An absolute giant’
Fulton, nicknamed “Bozo”, made his debut with Manly in 1966 and was a part of the club’s first three premierships, playing centre or five-eighth.
His most famous performance came in their 1973 grand final success, where he scored two tries in the 10-7 win over Cronulla.
Fulton’s career was ended prematurely at 269 matches when he was cruelled by a knee injury in 1979 while playing for the Eastern Suburbs Roosters (now Sydney Roosters).
He played 35 Tests for Australia and 16 matches for New South Wales in the pre-State of Origin era.
Such was his influence as a player, he was inducted as one of the sport’s first four Immortals alongside Johnny Raper, Reg Gasnier and Clive Churchill in 1981.
He was also named in the Australian Team of the Century in 2008.
Fulton later coached Manly to two titles in separate stints at the club in 1987 and 1996.
He coached the Roosters to the 1980 grand final where they lost to Canterbury.
He also spearheaded the Australian side for seven years, winning World Cups in 1992 and 1995 along with victories in 32 of his 39 matches in charge.
Fulton later served as an Australian selector and was also a New South Wales selection advisor.
“Bob Fulton was an absolute giant of the game across so many different areas,” New South Wales Rugby League chief executive David Trodden said in a statement.
“He was an Immortal as a player, a premiership-winning coach and Australian coach and undoubtedly one of the most influential figures the game has ever seen across every level of the game.”