Raymond Faitala-Mariner, a former Canterbury Bulldogs club captain, has disclosed that the club never forced him out at Belmore.

The second-rower has had a wild ride over the last year.

Raymond Faitala-Mariner

After successfully recovering from a long-term injury in 2022, the second-rower, who has added middle forward to his skill set, was named club captain in 2023.

That didn’t last long, though, as he had some reported troubles and a falling out with rookie coach Cameron Ciraldo before contracting pneumonia and being admitted to the hospital.

His 2023 season was ultimately cut short, with constant speculation and rumours that he would ultimately be forced to find a new club despite having years to run on his contract at the blue and white.

Things got so bad at the close of the 2023 season that Faitala-Mariner skipped the start of preseason training due to club instructions.

He returned to training after settling things with club director of football Phil Gould, but was still looking for a new club. He eventually found one, signing with the St George Illawarra Dragons effective immediately, with Canterbury willing to release him from the final two years of his contract.

However, Faitala-Mariner told The Sydney Morning Herald that he was never forced out and that the decision to leave was entirely his own.

“They weren’t pushing me out the door at all,” Faitala-Mariner added.

“Just this opportunity arose. I considered it, chatted with my boyfriend, family, and parents, and they all suggested that a change was in order. I heeded their counsel and am glad I did.

“Now that I was in camp with the Dragons this week, I can see why the change was needed.”

Intriguingly, Faitala-Mariner informed the publication that his absence from training was due to a “miscommunication” rather than being asked to leave, and that he was in frequent contact with Ciraldo and Gould about his future as allegations of him being shopped for a new home continued.

“(Reports said they didn’t want me there), yet whenever something came out in the media, I constantly spoke with Ciraldo and Gus. “They always confirmed to me that it was not true,” he claimed.

“I’m not sure where it came from.” When there were rumours in the media that they were shopping me around, I would always go to the coach, and Gus would be there at times, and they would give me their word that it wasn’t true and didn’t know where it was coming from.”

Faitala-Mariner’s debut appearance for the Dragons will most likely be against the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the Charity Shield at Kogarah on February 17, followed by a second trial against the Tigers in Mudgee. They begin their season against the Gold Coast Titans away from home.

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