It was the moment Zac Fulton left no one in doubt he belonged in top company.
Debuting at the club when his famous late grandfather has a stand named in his honour – on a night of high drama with Manly's anti-rainbow brigade sitting the game out - Zac refused to back down to Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves in the round 20 NRL clash.
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JWH charged into Fulton with his "bumper bars" raised but met his match in the shape of young Fulton, who flung him to the ground in a solid one-on-one tackle. The frustrated Roosters veteran reacted by shoving an elbow into the debutant's face and conceding a penalty for his actions.
Calling the game for Channel 9, NSW coach Brad Fittler said of Fulton: "He was great. They saw him there and targeted him, but he stood his ground. I've never seen a Fulton back down from anything."
Fulton also had a strong game in general play, making seven runs for 45m in an eye-catching first-up display.
Anthony Seibold was at home watching the game and made a mental note of the rookie's performance and toughness.
Seibold obviously had no idea he would be in line for the coaching job at Manly three months later, but has made clear Fulton's retention should be a high priority as he prepares to officially take on the role.
Zac Fulton sings on at Manly
Fulton's immediate future was secured on Wednesday when the Sea Eagles announced the 21-year-old would be staying until at least the end of 2024 after signing a fresh two-year deal.
"Seibs really liked what Zac brought to the game, especially the way he refused to be intimidated by Waerea-Hargreaves," a Sea Eagles insider told Yahoo Sport Australia.
"That told him all he needed to know about the kid's character. He was sold on him from that moment."
Manly CEO Tony Mestrov said: "Zac fully deserves this contract and we look forward to seeing him take his opportunities in first grade next year.
"He is a very good edge runner with a high work ethic. His toughness and aggressive style of play is certainly not lost on his team-mates."
Fulton's re-signing ensures the famous footballing name lives on at Manly, with grand-father Bob a club legend and league Immortal.
Zac is the third generation Fulton to play at the club, following Bob, father Scott and uncle Brett in pulling on the maroon and white.
His retention comes a fortnight after the club parted ways with his aunty and pathways manager, Kristie Fulton.
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