Heard the one about Fulton at No. 6
By Dean Ritchie and Christian Nicolussi From: The Daily Telegraph September 15, 2010 12:00AM
LIAM Fulton is recognised as one of the Wests Tigers’ best practical jokers. But it could be time for the man who shares the surname of one of the game’s greatest to get deadly serious.
Regular back-rower Fulton is officially on standby to play five-eighth if champion Benji Marshall fails to overcome a painful knee injury.
Fulton’s potential shift to the backline comes after centre Chris Lawrence was given virtually no chance of returning from a broken jaw to face the Raiders, despite being named on the bench.
Indications yesterday were that Marshall would play but Fulton has been told he will wear the No. 6 jumper if the Tigers’ key playmaker withdraws. Fulton would then be faced with a one-on-one confrontation with Canberra five-eighth Terry Campese.
The Tigers are knocked about through injury and had 11 players sit out yesterday’s training session in rain at Concord Oval.
Tim Moltzen, Wade McKinnon and Geoff Daniela are definite non-starters while young Blake Ayshford (virus) is considered a possible.
In a reshuffle, Mitch Brown has gone from fullback to the centres with Sean Meaney in the No. 1 shirt.
Asked who would replace Marshall, Wests Tigers assistant coach Royce Simmons said: "Liam Fulton can fill in everywhere - the back-row, six or seven if he has to.
"Liam would be the man to step in there. He’s not a billygoat. He has played in a grand final, played in England and been around a long time.
"He would take the pressure off [halfback Robert Lui].
“Benji wants to play and we hope he does play. We will give him an hour before kick-off. A bit of common sense would come into it.”
Lawrence has not played since breaking his jaw against Melbourne on August 29 and only had the wiring removed last Tuesday.
Lawrence said he did not expect to play against the Raiders and will even be racing the clock for the Dragons preliminary final next week should the Tigers reach that stage.
“I haven’t spoken with the surgeon yet but I don’t think I’ll be playing,” Lawrence said.
“I could possibly be back the next week, but that was always going to be the best-case scenario. The jaw feels all right, but I’m not preparing to come back this week.”
Even with the club’s horrendous injury toll, Lawrence said there was little he could do and is confident that whoever takes the field will get the job done.
Despite the injury toll and last weekend’s golden point loss, Simmons is adamant the Tigers can still win the title.
“Of course we can win the grand final. I thought we were fantastic in the opening 60 minutes last weekend against the Roosters,” he said. "Rather than put the knife in though, we started to look forward.
"We finished third in the comp and have been building and building over the past five or six weeks.
“Canberra say they are on a roll but we are on a roll ourselves.”
If Benji’s out I’d like to think we’ll see Fulton occassionally slot into dummy half with Farah at 1st receiver and Lui at 2nd receiver. For those that didn’t see much of Lui in the NYC last year, 2 wide of the ruck at 5/8 is where he plays his best footy. Obvioulsy we all want Farah probing around the ruck which is the go in the early tackle count, but on the last couple of tackles I’d like to see him and Lui push wider to create some oportunities on the edges.
Whilst Fulton is more than capable to fill the 5/8th role, i don’t think it is the best solution for Sheens. His loss in defence around the ruck will be costly, especially against the Raiders forward pack who like to keep the momentum rolling down the middle third.
if anything i would suggest Sheens to shift Fulton to lock with a roving commision, use Farah as the main playmaker, with Lui as the secondary, with Fitzhenry distributing alternately from the play-the-ball with Farah.
This will keep the ruck quite tight with Heighno, Payten, Dwyer and Ellis all thereabouts in the backrow.
Liam will knock the living daylight out of campese if he plays at 6.
One thing is predictable though , there wont be too much razzle dazzle with Benji not playing… I can see a lot of forward like running , ie just taking the ball forward and taking the hit up … (this is for whoever replaces Benji)