Immortal and untouchable: Why Bozo escaped Manly punishment
BOB Fulton has been an Immortal since 1981. When he walked away from his role as a football consultant for his beloved Manly last year he effectively became an untouchable.
One of the biggest names in rugby league, Fulton was heavily involved in rebuilding the Sea Eagles after former coach Des Hasler left for the Bulldogs with a legacy that included two premierships but also one of the most screwed-up rosters in the NRL due to his reliance on back-ended contracts.
Brought in as a consultant by club chairman Scott Penn in 2015, Fulton was the driving force behind signing current coach Trent Barrett as well as many of the recruits that have formed the core of a side that returned to the finals in 2017 for the first time in three seasons.
He considered that mission accomplished and disappeared after three years with his fingerprints all over the club's football department.
So when Todd Greenberg handed down Manly's penalties for rorting the cap over five years, Fulton's name was absent, sparking a series of questions as reporters tried to understand why the revered 70-year-old didn't cop a punishment like former Sea Eagles CEO Joe Kelly and chief operating officer Neil Bare.
According to Greenberg, the explanation is simple.
"He's not a registered official in rugby league, he has no standing in rugby league as a registered official, which means the rules we can apply to registered officials don't apply," Greenberg said.
"The reality is I have no jurisdiction over Bob Fulton.
"We can only be effective around the rules of the people that work inside rugby league, that goes across every player, every official, every coach.
"And you've heard me say many times before that it's indeed a great privilege to work inside the game but it's not a right for anyone, me included.
"Bob left (Manly) at the back end of last year."
Fulton may not get off completely with the man who has been an ever-present as a selector for representative teams unlikely to be reappointed when the next Kangaroos squad is picked.
Fulton was Laurie Daley's NSW selection adviser up until last year when Peter Sterling took over but he continued on the selection committee for the national team and was involved in picking last year's winning World Cup squad.
"The Australian selectors completed their commitments at the end of last year's Rugby League World Cup," Greenberg said.
"The reality is we will put forward selectors again at the end of this year for the one-off standalone Test and will consider that at that appropriate time."
While Greenberg was careful with his words about the role played by Fulton - who is still a towering figure in the game - in Manly's salary cap cheating, the NRL boss confirmed that in his three-year tenure at the Sea Eagles he was "heavily involved in negotiations" with players.
"It's fair to say Bob was heavily involved in negotiations for the period of time he worked at Manly," Greenberg said, adding that Fulton was never interviewed by the Integrity Unit during its investigation of the salary cap breaches.
"The Integrity Unit reached out to Bob on several occasions. We understand that he was unavailable for interview at the times we requested."
While the elusive Manly legend has no immediate penalty to pay, Greenberg said his actions would come under scrutiny if he was ever again to attempt to take an official role within rugby league.
"He would have to apply for registration like everyone else and we would have to consider that application if and when it was available," Greenberg said.