Raymond Faitala-Mariner makes admission about Cameron Ciraldo incident amid NRL legal storm

The former Canterbury captain says he may have been wrong.

Former Bulldogs captain Raymond Faitala-Mariner admits he may have been out of line to question the training methods of Cameron Ciraldo. 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. Topine's legal case is centred around claims he was forced to wrestle up to 35 teammates in quick succession as punishment for being late to a training session.

Pictured left Raymond Faitala-Mariner and Cameron Ciraldo right
Raymond Faitala-Mariner admits he may have been wrong to question the training methods of Cameron Ciraldo. Image: Getty

Clubs use an array of methods to penalise players for indiscretions such as not being on time and because Topine was late for a 90-minute wrestling session, his punishment was to wrestle the Bulldogs squad. Topine's legal representatives state he was directed to do so by Bulldogs high-performance manager Travis Touma, and that it was "unlawful" and a breach of procedural fairness, amounting to corporal punishment. Topine claims he suffered "psychiatric injury, deprivation of liberty, humiliation, indignity, physical exhaustion, physical discomfort, anxiety, embarrassment and fear" as a direct result of the gruelling session.

Faitala-Mariner's defence of his teammates led to him being told he was free to leave the club, 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 as a result of his actions.

After being welcomed back into the squad he gave several interviews explaining how he had cleared the air with Ciraldo. However, in January he sealed a switch to the Red V on a two-year deal, with many believing that it showed Faitala-Mariner and the club had never quite made up. But the Dragons enforcer doesn't see it that way.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 08: Taane Milne of the Rabbitohs is tacked by Jackson Topine of the Bulldogs during the round 19 NRL match between South Sydney Rabbitohs and Canterbury Bulldogs at Accor Stadium on July 08, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Izhar Khan/Getty Images)
Jackson Topine has not added to his 16 NRL appearances since the Bulldogs incident.

"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."

But for the first time since confronting the Canterbury coach, Faitala-Mariner admits he may have been wrong to question Ciraldo and the club's direction. "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."


Since moving to the Dragons in controversial fashion, Faitala-Mariner said he had barely spoken to Topine. "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."

If Topine does take Canterbury to court, former Bulldogs players, including Faitala-Mariner, may be called to give evidence in the case. Canterbury's board has vowed to "vigorously defend" themselves and their trainer against the $4 million civil case brought forward by their former player.

with AAP