Fulton happy to plug Tigers' gaps - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Fulton happy to plug Tigers' gaps

Steve Jancetic 13/03/2011 07:15:05 PM Comments (0)

While Benji Marshall's mental state has been the subject of intense speculation, Wests Tigers backrower Liam Fulton knows exactly where he fits into the scheme of things heading into Monday night's NRL blockbuster against Canterbury at ANZ Stadium.

Fulton describes himself as the ugly duckling of the Tigers backrow, the unfashionable footballer who "fills the gap" alongside high profile duo Gareth Ellis and Chris Heighington.

"I'm happy to have that title," Fulton said.

"Gaz Ellis is probably the best second rower in the world ... I know I could never do things that he could do.

"And Heighington, he's just the ultimate workhorse, he's got an engine like I've never seen before.

"I'm just there to fill the gap ... and we work really well as a trio."

One gap Fulton will be called on to fill on Monday night will be the one new Canterbury signing Frank Pritchard takes aim at on the Bulldogs' left edge.

It's a tough ask for the slender Fulton, with Pritchard's 112kg frame resembling a runaway wrecking ball when it reaches top speed.

But personal sacrifice is nothing new for Fulton when it comes to the Tigers, having quit the club ahead of the 2009 season as the joint venture struggled to fit under the salary cap.

"No-one's bigger than the game, no-one's bigger than the team," Fulton said of his selfless act, with the Tigers offering no guarantee of taking him back in 2010.

"I thought I'd put myself out, help the Tigers out with the cap to relieve pressure - the last thing I'd want is the Tigers to be charged with salary cap problems.

"No-one really understood what was going on because I never really came out and said (anything). I pretty much did it for the team, did it for the club.

"I had the opportunity to stay at Huddersfield, Sheensy (Tigers coach Tim Sheens) gave me a call midway through the end of 2009 and he asked me if I was interested in coming back over ... it was nice to know they wanted me back because I did something nice for them."

Another reacquainting himself with old friends will be former Bulldogs winger Matt Utai, who has benefitted from Beau Ryan's injury layoff to nab a berth on the Tigers flanks.

Utai ensured his selection with some barnstorming displays in the trials, and fellow winger Lote Tuqiri backed his new teammate to handle the expected aerial barrage on Monday night.

"He's played international rugby league, he's played grand finals, he's won grand finals, he's got a lot of experience," Tuqiri said.

"You can target him as much as you like but he's coped with that his whole career."

The Tigers said they had no concerns over Marshall's ability to focus on the game after he was charged with assault last Monday.

The New Zealand skipper hasn't missed a training session all week and Tuqiri was adamant the drama would help galvanise the team.

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