Faitala-Mariner makes peace after talk of Bulldogs exit

Raymond Faitala-Mariner wants to remain captain at NRL club Canterbury, despite being told he was free to leave Belmore after raising concerns over the Bulldogs’ training regimen. 

Faitala-Mariner flagged the issue with club hierarchy last season after a number of players, mostly of Polynesian backgrounds, had expressed concerns about head coach Cameron Ciraldo’s approach.

One player, whose identity has been protected, walked out on training after being made to wrestle several teammates as a punishment for turning up late.

It is understood the player in question has yet to return to Belmore. 

Faitala-Mariner’s stance led to him being told he was free to explore his options in September, despite having two years left on his deal.

The uncertainty over his future took a further twist last month when the Samoan international was told to stay away from pre-season training. 

Raymond Faitala-Mariner (centre)
Bulldogs captain Raymond Faitala-Mariner (centre) absorbs plenty of pressure against the Raiders.

But Faitala-Mariner said on Wednesday he remained committed to the Bulldogs and was adamant he wanted to remain club captain.

“I want to take all the learnings that I've got from last year and apply them to this year,” he said. 

“Last year was a blessing in disguise - heading into this year you know what not to do, what to do.

“I wouldn’t say there were issues. There were a few conversations here and there.

“I should’ve nailed it on the head and just been like, ‘This is who we are, you might have to suck it up and this is the way it is'.

“There were no concerns, there were no issues.” 

Faitala-Mariner said he sought out Ciraldo and the club’s football manager Phil "Gus’' Gould to ascertain whether he had a future at Canterbury.

He claimed the stories that said he was unwelcome at the club were “a miscommunication on my end”. 

“I had a conversation with Gus and he was straightforward and he was straight-up and we put everything to bed,” Faitala-Mariner said.

“They told me it wasn’t true (that I was free to leave). I believed the club and I just carried on with my process of getting stuff done.” 

Faitala-Mariner is one of Canterbury’s longest-serving players, and while he has seen a few false dawns he believes their new-found resilience can help them climb out of the NRL basement. 

“Not once have I heard anyone complain, which is a massive difference,” he said.

“That’s what’s been missing. All teams have similar methods, moves and systems, and it’s the stuff between the ears that makes a difference, which I think can give us an edge.” 

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