NRL greats grieve for ‘second dad’ Bob Fulton at 74

Hailed as one of the greatest players of all time, Bob Fulton -- shown here in his Seventies heyday -- leaves an army of friends, fans and memories.

Hailed as one of the greatest players of all time, Bob Fulton -- shown here in his Seventies heyday -- leaves an army of friends, fans and memories. Photo: AAP

Rugby league is in mourning after one of the game’s greatest ever players Bob Fulton died, aged 74.

A former Kangaroos captain, coach and selector, Fulton’s influence over rugby league was immense.

The news of his passing after a long illness has rocked rugby league, with former Manly enforcer Mark Carroll paying an emotional tribute to his ex-coach on Fox League.

“Massive loss for the game, he was the best player who ever played for Manly,” Carroll said.

“Without Bob Fulton I wouldn’t have won a comp, I wouldn’t have played for Australia.

“He’s like my second dad. When I heard the news I went cold. It’s very emotional.”

Tributes flooded in for the Manly legend and NRL Immortal after the news on Sunday as the Sea Eagles prepared to face Parramatta.

Coaches Des Hasler and Ivan Cleary both played under Fulton at Manly, coaching just hours after his death was confirmed.

‘Bozo is an absolute legend’

Hasler was brought to the Sea Eagles by Fulton in 1984, with the two spending almost all of Hasler’s first-class career together as player and coach.

“Bozo is an absolute legend of the game and to many of us he was a friend, a mentor and his legend that he brought to the game will never be forgotten,” Hasler told Channel Nine on Sunday.

“He was a winner, there was no doubt about that, there was always a way, and if not you have to find that way.”

Fulton’s former colleagues on 2GB broke down as they delivered the news on Sunday afternoon.

“It’s a very sad day for the Fulton family and rugby league generally,” Ray Hadley said.

“I’ve announced some sad things on radio but this could be the saddest.

“I’m going to miss him, he was a great man … the most loyal friend I’ve ever had.”

Fulton made his debut with Manly in 1966, and just two years later captained the side to the 1968 grand final loss to South Sydney aged only 21.

An unorthodox player but noted try-scorer whether playing at centre or five-eighth, he was part of Manly’s first three premiership wins.

Crowning glory

His most famous performance came in their 1973 grand final success, where he scored two tries in the 10-7 win over Cronulla as man of the match.

Fulton was also the captain for Manly’s 1976 premiership victory before making a shock switch to Eastern Suburbs.

Fulton’s career was ended prematurely at 269 games to go with his 35 Tests for Australia and 16 matches for NSW when he was cruelled by a knee injury in 1979.

Such was his influence as a player, he was inducted as one of the sport’s first four Immortals alongside Ken Irvine, Reg Gasnier and Clive Churchill in 1981.

But that was only the beginning of Fulton’s influence over the sport, almost immediately rising to the role of the Roosters coach 10 months after his career-ending injury.

He then returned to Manly as coach, winning titles in two separate stints at the club in 1987 and 1996. He later spearheaded the Australia side for seven years, winning World Cups in 1992 and 1995 along with victories in 32 of his 39 games in charge.


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