Fulton earns debut in Manly patchwork

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Manly are set to debut a third-generation Fulton into the NRL with second-rower Zac called into the heavily-depleted team to take on the Sydney Roosters.

The Sea Eagles confirmed on Wednesday night the 20-year-old Fulton would debut on Thursday, after prop Sean Keppie failed to overcome a shoulder injury.

The son of Scott and nephew of Brett, Fulton was born three years after any of his relatives last ran out for the Sea Eagles at Brookvale.

But he is no doubt well aware of the impact his family have had at the club, with his grandfather Bob still the club's most influential figure.

The Manly junior has played Harold Mathews, SG Ball and Jersey Flegg for the Sea Eagles, while spending time in NSW Cup at feeder-club Blacktown this year.

Fittingly, his debut will come on the same ground the newly developed Bob Fulton Stand was opened earlier this year.

Meanwhile Keppie's lingering injury from last week's loss to St George Illawarra has left Manly in even further chaos.

After seven players stood down unwilling to wear the club's rainbow inclusion jersey, the Sea Eagles are also in the midst of an injury crisis.

Lachlan Croker was only due to exit COVID isolation on Thursday morning and will need to pass return-to-play protocols to come straight back into the team.

Andrew Davey and Jake Trbojevic were also struck down with the virus last week, but have been named to play.

Ben Trbojevic is out through concussion protocols after a head knock in the defeat to the Dragons, while his superstar brother Tom remains injured.

Centre Brad Parker is also unavailable after picking up a hand injury earlier this month on return from a serious knee issue in NSW Cup, while Karl Lawton is out for the year.

Morgan Boyle has also had to beat an injury to play, running out for the first time since hurting his ankle in March while also without a contract for next year.

It means in total Manly have a maximum of just 16 members of their top-30 squad fit and willing to play this weekend, before calling in members from outside the top 30.

Wingers Pio Seci and Alfred Smalley will debut alongside Fulton, with Seci a story of persistence and dedication.

One of the Fiji Silktails who flew to Australia and quarantined last year to play in the third-tier Ron Massey Cup, the 28-year-old is now the first player to debut from that system into the NRL.

Smalley is a Niue representative, topping the try-scoring charts for Blacktown in NSW Cup this year after two years of minimal football through COVID.

James Segeyaro is another to return off the bench after his drugs ban, playing his first game since last running out in the NRL for Brisbane in 2019.

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