Fulton's influence lingers in NSW Origin

·2-min read

Bob Fulton played his last rugby league game 11 years before any current NSW player was born, but he has been much discussed in the Blues' State of Origin camp.

Fulton received a fitting farewell on Friday at a state funeral, with the Blues team and Manly's NRL squad giving him a guard of honour out of St Mary's Cathedral after his death last month aged 74.

While that took only part of Friday morning, Fulton's name has been regularly mentioned as NSW prepare for the series opener in Townsville.

One of rugby league's first four immortals, Fulton's 263-game career, that included three premierships, was ended by a knee injury in 1979.

Even when he coached his last game for Manly and Australia, NSW prop Payne Hass still wasn't born and winger Brian To'o had just turned one.

"We've chatted about Bozo and what a player he was, and how much influence he had on the game," NSW assistant Greg Alexander said.

"He's a unique character in the game.

"Not many people have done what Bozo did throughout his career as a player, administrator and coach. He did everything.

There are some players here who wouldn't know him that well and wouldn't know the influence he had in his career. But they do now."

Fulton played 17 games for NSW in the pre-Origin period between 1967 and 1978, scoring 14 tries.

His influence on the NSW squad lingers to this day.

He coached Blues coach Brad Fittler and Alexander in Australian teams, while assistants Danny Buderus and Craig Fitzgibbon debuted for NSW while Fulton was a selector.

Manly players Tom and Jake Trbojevic have also felt his impact at club level, with Fulton crucial in keeping the pair at the Sea Eagles back in 2016.

The Blues will run out of the Bob Fulton changerooms before walking across the underground tunnel into Stadium Australia for Game III in Sydney next month.

"As a rep coach and Australian coach, there couldn't have been a better man in charge of a group of young men," Alexander said.

"He just knew how to handle men. He knew how much rope to give us, how much enjoyment he could give us and when to pull us into line.

"He made sure we trained hard and made sure we won. Just a good overall mentor for young players."