How Brad saved me: Faraimo
Brad Arthur, you might've heard, is a popular coach.
He's a real man's man, they say, a typically battle-hardened Parramatta local. A a bloke who creates strong enough bonds with his players to entice them away from the sea breezes of the northern beaches.
And, in Bureta Faraimo's case, from the comfortable confines of Wellington, New Zealand, too, which is where he was heading after his starring role for the American Tomahawks in the 2013 World Cup, given no one was really interested in him.
"That was one of my plans if nothing worked out after the World Cup – just go home," Faraimo tells NRL.com.
"I would've just given it up, to be honest. I would've gone back home to New Zealand. I wouldn't have a clue what I'd be doing, probably just watching TV and sitting at home. I honestly wouldn't know."
Faraimo isn't quite your Anthony Watmough, and he certainly isn't your Kieran Foran. But for reasons very similar to why two of Manly's most significant pieces of the modern era have decided to take their talents to Parramatta, Faraimo not only decided to head out to Sydney's greater west last season, but re-sign for an extra 12 months, too.
"I wouldn't have a clue why he called me or how he saw me. I was just sitting around when I got a phone call from a random number. I was real shocked," Faraimo re-called of his first conversation with Arthur after the World Cup.
Teammate Joseph Paulo, the Tomahawks' captain in the World Cup, said Faraimo was initially an awkward customer when he arrived in camp for the global tournament.
"He started off as an unfit player. He didn't have much of a background other than just having KFC and turning up and using his size," a brutally honest Paulo recalled.
"He was quiet and shy, like most Islanders. But by the end of the World Cup he was one of our leaders. He was our go-to karaoke man, he can play guitar, he can sing. It was good to see him come out.
"The only way we got to the finals was off his big, rampaging runs and quick play-the-balls. Now he's got fitness to go with his size. I reckon he took a lot of confidence out of being the NSW Cup Player of the Year. It's a credit to him that he re-signed because he put in the hard work."
The 24-year-old played two games in his rookie campaign last season, scoring two tries, before injuries thwarted any chance of more game time.
Injuries were then his ticket back into first grade two weeks ago, when he impressed Arthur with a 163-metre effort off just 15 runs. Last month, the New Zealand-born product re-committed to Parramatta for another season, all because of one man.
"I felt like I owed Brad heaps," he said. "Without him, I would've just given up."