Fulton the ultimate pro until the end

·3-min read

Even in his last days, Bob Fulton remained the ultimate competitor and professional.

One of rugby league's first four immortals, Fulton was given a fitting farewell on Friday with his state funeral at St Mary's Cathedral.

For more than an hour friends, family and former teammates spoke of the way Fulton changed the game and was determined to be the best.

Not just for his sport as a player, coach and administrator, but also for his family.

"Dad was a trainer, he was in the gym up to a week before his passing," son Brett revealed.

"I asked: What are you doing? And he said: I have to get stronger for mum.

"Dad loved competition. He was the most competitive person I ever met. From cards to arm curls, he would challenge everybody and win most the time."

The man who knew Fulton longest, Manly teammate Peter Peters, saw that determination from age nine as junior stars in Wollongong.

"Bob became a professional before everyone," Peters said.

"He had a gymnasium in his home he spent a lot of time in. He was a fitness fanatic before his time."

At age 18, Fulton vowed to Peters they'd one day complete a lap of honour at the SCG after watching St George win the 1965 grand final from the roof of the Sheridan Stand.

Eight years later Fulton virtually ensured it off his own back, scoring two tries to help Manly topple Cronulla in one of the great individual grand-final performances of all time.

"As we did a lap of honour he put his hand on my shoulder and pointed to the top of the grandstand and simply said: 'I told you', Peters recalled.

"Unbelievable, what a magic carpet ride you took me on. Brother, you're going to with me forever."

It was one of three premierships for Fulton as a player, to go with his two as a coach.

He held the same record in World Cups as a player and coach for Australia while becoming one of rugby league's most influential men.

Among the hundreds of mourners were Peter V'landys, Andrew Abdo, Mal Meninga, Des Hasler, Manly owner Scott Penn and the club's godfather Ken Arthurson.

Both Manly's NRL squad and the NSW State of Origin team gave him a guard of honour out of the cathedral while a flag flew in his honour.

Thousands more watched on a live stream as Peters, Ray Hadley, Alan Jones and son Brett spoke.

"I think the congregation here today is a metaphor for the life of Bob Fulton," Jones said.

"There are people here today who knew Bob well. There are people who knew him marginally well. There are perhaps others who never met him.

"This remarkable man entered the lives of everyone, by his accomplishments and through his modesty and self-effacement."

The last memory of Fulton however belonged to his family.

"The day before he passed he woke to a nurse beside his bedside," Brett said.

"She said what do you do for a job. He said: 'My job is to look after my family'.

"Dad was the master of fun and good times. But most of all Dad is my hero. He is my mentor and my best mate."