Zac Fulton on pressure of family name and big ambitions with Bradford Bulls

Zac Fulton had no doubts that he would follow in his family’s famous footsteps to become a rugby league player.

THREE games, three wins, all against play-off challenging competition, and a couple of tries to boot.

That is not a bad start to anyone’s playing career in the UK so it’s little wonder that Zac Fulton is more than happy with how life at Bradford Bulls has got underway.

As the grandson of rugby league immortal Bob Fulton, there was always going to be a certain air of expectancy on him, especially when he joined Manly, the club at which not only his grandfather had so much success as both a player and a coach, but also where his father Scott spent seven years as a payer.

Joining the Bulls has not only seen him move to the other side of the world on his own, but he is also hoping that a successful stint in West Yorkshire will see him start to make a name for himself in his own right.

“Given my family, I had no option when it came to playing rugby league, but I didn’t want an option because I always knew what I was going to do,” Fulton told Rugby League World.

“I was always going to try and make a career out of the game and be the very best I could be.

“Any generational players that sit here and say there is no pressure on them to live up to the family name are lying to themselves.

“Of course, you want to live up to that name and make your family proud, but you also have to do what you do to the best of your ability. You can’t compare yourself to others.

“I certainly can’t compare myself to Bob because my grandfather is one of the best players to ever play rugby league, but what I can do is plug away, do my job the best I can and hopefully my best footy is yet to come.

“By coming to Bradford I have got a fresh competition, fresh faces, and I assume no one really knows me over here, so that level of expectation has dropped away a little bit. I can just go out there and be me a bit more, focus on footy, being around my new mates on the team and trying to put my best foot forward for this club.

“Moving halfway across the world is tough for anyone and I have made the move on my own but all the lads here have taken me under their wing and have made the transition so easy for me.

“It has been hard to leave my family, but things change and people move on. That’s life, but I’m sure I have made this decision for the better.”

Fulton arrived at the club ahead of the start league campaign having signed a one-year contract with the former Super League champions, and made his debut in the Good Friday win over Halifax Panthers.

While no plans have yet been made beyond the initial deal, Fulton, who also then featured in the wins over Featherstone and Toulouse, is already aiming for the top – and believes he can do that whilst wearing the famous red, amber and black of his new home, even if IMG points will have a say in when that happens.

“With my Grandad being from Warrington originally I was always aware of the game over here and when I was really young I knew Bradford were going really well,” added Fulton.

“Until a couple of years ago I thought they were still in Super League. 

“As a club, they still have a big reputation back in Australia. Everyone still knows them from their Challenge Cup wins and Super League titles.

“They have had their struggles in recent years but they are still a well-known name and that was part of the attraction.

“I had a couple of offers to come over but after speaking to Freddie (Bulls coach Eamon O’Carroll) it was going to be here. He phoned me a couple of times just to check in and see how I was doing, and that sort of thing goes a long way with me.

“It’s just an exciting time around here. It always is when you’re winning games and going well, but throughout the club good things are happening.

“Obviously, as a club, Bradford want to get back to Super League, but for now our focus is on winning this comp, getting the Championship title and winning the 1895 Cup. 

“As players, all we can do is focus on that and we do believe we can do it.

“I do not doubt that Bradford will be back in Super League in the next two to three years. The club are putting a lot of good stuff together at the minute and if we keep winning and the crowds keep turning up then it will be hard to keep us out of that conversation.

“Of course, I want to play top-flight rugby in my career – if that’s with Bradford or someone else who knows, but at the minute I am confident that Bradford will get there.

“Whatever happens for me next will happen, but for now I am loving it here at Bradford.”

Even with the rain hammering down and bouncing off the muddy track that surrounds the Odsal pitch just minutes after the 19-12 win over Toulouse, the 22-year-old insists he is not missing the white sandy beaches of Manly that he has traded in for the decidedly less sunny climes of BD6.

“The first day I got here I got off the plane and it was pouring down,” he added.

“I did wonder then what I had got myself into and it has been pretty overcast every day since. I think the sun was out twice in the first three weeks I was here.

“But I have no regrets.”

First published in Rugby League World magazine, Issue 496 (May 2024)

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