June 15, 2024

As recruitment manager Scott Fulton leaves the team, Justin Olam will immediately transfer from Melbourne to join the Wests Tigers’ revamped roster.

Olam, who won a championship and was named the Storm’s 2020 Dally M center of the year, has verbally agreed to terms with the joint venture and will play for the Tigers in 2024.

After re-signing with Melbourne 18 months ago, the 30-year-old Papua New Guinean is among the most paid centers in the league. That deal will be picked up by the Tigers for the final three seasons, through the conclusion of 2026.

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Given that back-rower Shawn Blore has already committed to the Storm until 2025 and beyond, it is anticipated that his signing by the wooden spooners will send him in the other direction.

The announcement of Olam’s change coincides with Fulton’s dismissal due to a front office reorganization that also saw the departure of Richardson’s predecessor, Justin Pascoe, and chairman Lee Hagipantelis.

Last May, Hagipantelis and Pascoe signed Fulton without the knowledge of Tim Sheens, the coach at the time, or Benji Marshall, who would eventually replace him.

Throughout 2023, Marshall and Fulton had disagreements on multiple hiring decisions.

Instead of looking for a replacement, the Tigers will use Richardson, Marshall, and Matthew Betsey as their recruiting committee.

Scott Fulton, the son of Immortal and Manly icon Bob, spearheaded Manly’s expansion into western Sydney by acquiring players such as Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, and the Fainu brothers, who later reunited with him at the Tigers.

Before joining the Tigers, Fulton had reportedly held talks with the Dragons and another unidentified rival team. Fulton is well-liked in the club community.

Following their rejection of Canterbury’s identical verbal offer, the Tigers signed Panthers premiership winner Jarome Luai on a five-year, $6 million contract, marking one of their long deserved victories in the recruitment department.

Richardson has praised Luai’s coming in 2025, saying it may be just as significant as Greg Inglis’s 2011 relocation to South Sydney.

Rather than Fulton, Marshall took the lead in the early chase of Luai. The rookie coach met Luai at his house before Pascoe and Richardson took care of the remainder of his multimillion-dollar contract.

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For a few weeks, the Tigers’ interest in Olam remained on hold as they awaited Luai’s judgment.

Leading the team’s efforts to sign Addin Fonua-Blake, Fulton presented a generous four-year contract; however, Richardson withdrew it when he assumed the position of CEO.

In 2023, Olam experienced his first-ever fall from grace in the NRL. Craig Bellamy benched him late in the season, and he didn’t return until Melbourne’s playoff run.

In addition to Luai and Olam, playmakers Jayden Sullivan (until the end of 2027) and Aidan Sezer (with a mutual option for 2025) have been added to the team by Fulton, although there was tension between him and Marshall regarding Sezer’s UK transfer.

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