The Canterbury Bulldogs are currently facing turmoil as their captain, Raymond Faitala-Mariner, is at odds with the club over his future. A report emerged stating that Faitala-Mariner was free to negotiate with rival teams for a potential move next season. However, Faitala-Mariner’s manager, Ernie Santone, publicly claimed that the club had not been in contact regarding the issue. Despite this, Santone stated that Faitala-Mariner had no interest in leaving the Bulldogs, as he still has two years remaining on his contract. The lack of communication from the club has left both Santone and Faitala-Mariner confused and disappointed.
Amidst the ongoing saga, it was revealed that Faitala-Mariner had been offered to the St George Illawarra Dragons. However, the club’s next coach, Shane Flanagan, did not warm to the idea. Despite frustrations within Faitala-Mariner’s camp, the Bulldogs‘ actions have potentially opened the door for him to move on. Santone expressed that his hands were tied by the contract as well as the club’s silence.
In the midst of all this drama, the Bulldogs recently acquired veteran prop Liam Knight from the Rabbitohs. Faitala-Mariner took on the captaincy role under coach Cameron Ciraldo‘s leadership this season, but the team has struggled to find success. The Bulldogs currently sit in 16th place on the ladder after 21 rounds and have been leaking an average of 31.2 points per game. This season could potentially mark their third-worst year for points conceded if they continue at this rate.
The Bulldogs‘ challenging year has been further compounded by a string of injuries, particularly to key forwards Viliame Kikau and Luke Thompson. As a result, the club has had to rely on their younger players. Ciraldo, who arrived at the Bulldogs this season with much anticipation after his successful stint at the Panthers, has faced numerous challenges in rebuilding the team.
Ivan Cleary, Panthers coach and mentor to Ciraldo, empathized with the difficulties of a rebuild. He recalled his own experiences with the Warriors and Penrith, where he inherited disjointed rosters and had to navigate through tough seasons. Cleary believes that Ciraldo will need to make tough roster decisions and develop a playstyle that suits the team he assembles. He expressed confidence that Ciraldo will ultimately succeed in his efforts.
Overall, the Bulldogs find themselves in a state of uncertainty as they navigate through internal conflicts and struggles on the field. The ongoing saga with Faitala-Mariner adds another layer of complexity to an already challenging season for the club. As they continue to rebuild under Ciraldo’s leadership, it remains to be seen how the Bulldogs will overcome their current obstacles and regain stability within the team.