Faitala-Mariner’s regret over handling of Dogs’ drama

George Clarke |

Raymond Faitala-Mariner says he may have been wrong to question the methods of his former coach.
Raymond Faitala-Mariner says he may have been wrong to question the methods of his former coach.

Former Canterbury captain Raymond Faitala-Mariner concedes he may have been wrong to question the training methods of Cameron Ciraldo as he prepares to face the Bulldogs for the first time since his controversial exit from the club.

Faitala-Mariner, whose St George Illawarra side meet the Bulldogs on Thursday, confronted Ciraldo last year when several players voiced concerns over Canterbury’s training program.

Among those players was Jackson Topine, who has since launched legal action against the club after he was made to wrestle several teammates as punishment for turning up late to training.

But for the first time, Faitala-Mariner has admitted he may have been out of line to confront Ciraldo and question the club’s direction.

Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo.
Several players confronted Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo over his training programs. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

“I was learning, I was new to the captaincy and leadership role,” Faitala-Mariner said.

“I guess my way of leadership, maybe I was wrong, maybe my leadership was wrong.

“I’ve learned a lot from it, and hopefully it’s made me a better leader, and now I know what to do and what not to do.”

Faitala-Mariner said he had barely spoken to Topine since moving to the Dragons.

If Topine does take Canterbury to court, former Bulldogs players, including Faitala-Mariner, may be called to give evidence.

“Pre-Christmas, I was in contact with him (Topine) maybe once or twice,” Faitala-Mariner said.

“But he’s gone MIA to be honest, I haven’t heard from him since then.”

Faitala-Mariner’s defence of his teammates led to him being told he was free to leave, but not before a circus of events in the pre-season.

First, the Samoan international was asked not to turn up to training in November.

Then, after being welcomed back into the fold, he gave several interviews explaining how he had cleared the air with Ciraldo.

Finally, in January he sealed a switch to the Red V on a two-year deal.

When it was put to him that those optics make it difficult to believe he and Bulldogs bosses ever truly made up, Faitala-Mariner was dismissive.

“I can see where you’re coming from, but as a player I’m looking at it from a business point of view,” Faitala-Mariner said.

“They want to head in a different direction and I guess I wasn’t in those plans, that’s what it was.

“There was talk, both parties agreed, and that’s what it came down to.”