Rugby league Immortal Bob Fulton will remain as NSW State of Origin coach Laurie Daley's advisor after being urged by Ray Hadley on Friday afternoon not to quit the post due to his close friendship with his 2GB radio colleague.
Daley on Friday accused the top-rating morning host and Channel 9 caller of ‘‘unsettling our entire campaign” by angling to have Blues assistant coach Matt Parish stood down from that role because he is in a relationship with Hadley’s estranged wife Suzanne.
NSW are due to announce their squad for the first match of this year’s interstate series on Tuesday ahead of Origin I at Suncorp Stadium on May 28.
Fulton, the former Australian captain, is a key player in that selection process, as the NSW Rugby League’s appointed advisor to Daley.
However, the 66-year-old’s close association with Hadley leaves him stuck in a middle of a bitter feud and his loyalty to the radio shock jock led him to consider quitting the Blues hierarchy on the eve of the Origin series.
Fulton said on Friday morning he would have to weigh up whether not he remained in his position with NSW.
‘‘The answer is really I guess I’ve got to look at it,’’ Fulton told Fairfax Media. ‘‘Obviously the thought has gone through my head. I’d be telling you a lie if I didn’t say that.’’
After a conversation with Hadley on Friday afternoon, though, Fulton decided not to walk away from the Blues, with Hadley adamant he should not sever ties because of his personal issues.
Hadley’s closeness to Fulton was apparent on Friday morning when he thanked the Manly legend for his daily support since the breakdown of his marriage.
The pair are long-term colleagues on 2GB’s weekend Continuous Call Team rugby league program.
"Bob Fulton has been providing me with strength and support and, to be honest, without his help and advice, I'd probably be in big trouble today," Hadley said.
"He has phoned me every day to check on my welfare. Other people have either sent me a text or called to simply say 'Are you OK?'"
Daley did not want Fulton to quit over the Hadley drama but it was feared the position of the Blues’ senior statesman may simply be unworkable. He had been kept abreast of developments since Hadley called NSWRL chief executive David Trodden about Parish and his ex-wife last week.
Fulton, previously a long-time NSW selector before the panel was disbanded and replaced with a lone advisor to the coach in a restructure of the Origin set-up, said he had no issues with Daley as the pair finalise the task of picking a squad for Origin I and was hopeful that NSW officials and staff could put the episode behind them.
It is unclear how the matter will affect Fulton's relationship with Parish but because the advisor does not have a "hands on" job with the team, working only with Daley on selection, it is hoped that will not be a problem.
‘‘I think there is plenty of dialogue still to go with this issue for everybody,’’ Fulton said. ‘‘But put it this way, we came through the Super League war and all the aggravation that was going on through that, a lot of friendships were busted and now some of those people are best of friends.’’
He does not believe NSW players will allow themselves to be distracted by the tension between Hadley and Daley and the subject of Parish’s coaching role but says the focus needs to turn quickly to preparing for the opening game of the series. Daley’s squad will enter their pre-game camp at Coffs Harbour next Wednesday. The Blues are trying to end an eight-year losing streak against Queensland.
‘‘I’m a minnow in the overall scheme of things in all this. The thing is got to to be taken into consideration is there is a team that is playing an Origin match in 10 or 12 days’ time, and we really do need to be concerning ourselves with that team,’’ Fulton said.
‘‘I think the players are professional and they can put things like this to one side. The answer is: I don’t think it will be an issue.’’