Kieran Foran is set to become rugby league's next $1 million-a-season player, but Manly Immortal Bob Fulton has paid him the ultimate compliment, declaring the talented five-eighth could be a great ac
ross any era of the Sea Eagles' history.
As Foran prepares to lead Manly into tonight's qualifying final against South Sydney at Allianz Stadium, leading NRL player agents agreed the 24-year-old had joined the elite player bracket and expect him to be paid accordingly.
One player manager even went as far to say he believed Foran could attract offers of around $1.2 million a season when he comes off contract at Brookvale at the end of next season.
It means the Sea Eagles will be in for a fight to retain the man who this week beat teammates Brett Stewart, Daly Cherry-Evans and Steve Matai to claim the club's players' player award at their presentation night.
"Kieran would demand at least $1 million a season," one leading player manager said yesterday.
"On the field he is just relentless. He is tough and has a great passing, running and kicking game. And he will only get better.
"He is also extremely marketable. In fact I think some clubs would pay $1.2 million a season for him."
There is a growing list of $1 million-a-year players thanks to endorsement deals and the NRL's expanded $6.1 million salary cap.
The elite bracket of players is rumoured to include Sonny Bill Williams, Billy Slater, Johnathan Thurston, Cam Smith, Greg Inglis, Sam Burgess, Jarryd Hayne and possibly Foran and Cherry-Evans in the near future.
Cherry-Evans has received many accolades at Manly this season and is also in line for a bumper pay increase when his next contract is negotiated, having made his State of Origin debut for Queensland this year.
But Fulton offered high praise for Foran.
"He is right up there," Fulton said on whether he would become a Manly great.
"The best way to describe Kieran Foran is that I think he would have the same impact on any era in the game.
"Foran is the complete package. He has got everything required of the modern day five-eighth. He is tough, uncompromising and takes no prisoners.
"There is a bit of Ian Martin (Manly lock and five-eighth between 1969 and 1978) in him and Martin was a player I seriously rated.
"There are quite a number of the current side who would stand alongside some of the club's greats.
"At such a young age, Foran hasn't just represented his country but he has captained it.
"I don't know him well but whenever I have been in his company, he has been a gentleman and from all reports is a decent person."
Foran was delighted to have captured the club's top award.
"It was very humbling," Foran said. "I think the boys were a bit generous to me. There were a few games when I didn't play all that well and still got the points. I think they looked after me there. It could have gone to any number of the boys."
Foran said Steve Matai and Brett Stewart have "had their best years."
Manly winger Jorge Taufua added: "There are a number of our senior players that have stepped up this year but it is a credit to Kieran for the effort he has put in this year."
NRL officials predict a crowd of between 25,000 to 30,000 this evening.
The Daily Telegraph