Zac Fulton is poised to become the third generation of his family to play first grade at the same club, the first time this has happened in NRL history.
Fulton will follow in the footsteps of his father, former Sea Eagle Scott, when he makes his debut against the Roosters on Thursday night, and is the grandson of perhaps the greatest Manly man of them all, league Immortal Bob Fulton.
Zac has been named in jersey No.18, but sources familiar with the situation have told the Herald the 20-year-old is expected to make coach Des Hasler’s final 17 for the match. Told that his nephew would make history, Brett Fulton – the son of the late Bob, who also played for the Sea Eagles in the mid-1990s – said: “That’s amazing, a first.
“The old man would be very proud, he would be proud as. He has always had a significant interest in all his grandchildren and how they are progressing through life. To play first grade is always an honour, but to do that at one club is unbelievable. He would be over the moon.”
Fulton will join an elite group of footballing families to have played at the highest level across multiple generations. According to statistician and historian David Middleton, of League Information services, the King family is king when it comes to footballing dynasties. Cec King played five games for Souths in 1945-46, his son is the great Dragons winger Johnny King, whose son David King played nine games for the [old] Gold Coast in 1991-92 and his son, Max King, is the current Bulldogs forward.
Scott, Zac and Bob Fulton of the Sea Eagles.Credit:NRL Photos, Tim Clayton
There were three generations of Bradstreets: Fred for Norths (1941), Bill for Manly (and Australia) 1964-73, and Darren for Illawarra 1997-98. There were also three generations of Mullanes: Mick snr for Newtown and St George 1947-53, Mick jnr for Cronulla 1976-83, and Jye for Cronulla and Manly 2002-04.
The Fultons will be the first to do it at one club.
Carrying the Fulton name hasn’t been a burden in the young back-rower’s quest to play in the NRL.
“He and my kids don’t give two hoots about what anybody says, which is a bit like Scott and myself,” Brett Fulton said.
“It is what it is, we’re more proud of our father or grandfather than any words from some Neville. It doesn’t affect us at all. That’s always been the case. We all get on with it and have that attitude towards it. Everywhere they look there’s something that their grandfather has done that others haven’t.”
Zac Fulton played bush footy in Moree and rose through the local grades before training with Manly’s top squad since summer. He began an electrical apprenticeship and worked as a curator at Scone racecourse before concentrating fully on football.
“He’s a bit like Cameron Murray, that type of player,” veteran Manly recruiter Noel “Crusher” Cleal said. “He can play on an edge or play on the ball. He’s got a good pass and good speed, there’s no question about his toughness. He’s a footy player.
“I suppose if you’re out of Terry Hill’s sister and Bob Fulton’s son, you’ve got to have a bit of footy in you.”
Fulton’s opportunity arose when seven Sea Eagles players – Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolu Koula and Toafofoa Sipley – pulled out of Thursday’s game because they didn’t want to wear the club’s Pride jersey. The circumstances won’t make the debut any less special.
“He’s done the hard work to put himself into a position to play, regardless of the circumstance,” Brett Fulton said.
“He’s been living with my mother and my father since he was 15. The work ethic required was drilled into him while he was with the old man and Mum. He’s a good kid, a tough kid and having exposure to all of those situations has helped.
“I’ve coached him since under 16s in the representative stuff and he had to work his way into that. It will be great for Zac to have that opportunity.”
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