Faitala-Mariner still needs some fine-tuning
Most players would say the hardest things to learn at a new club are defensive structures, play calls and decoy lines in attack. For Raymond Faitala-Mariner, it's lines of a different kind that have him stumped at the moment.
The Samoa international became the butt of a Bryan Fletcher joke on the Matty Johns Show on Fox Sports when footage from the sheds after Canterbury's win over the Wests Tigers showed him in strife during the team song.
"I was pretty lost. It was my first win in the blue and white so I better get used to it," Faitala-Mariner said after struggling to remember the words on Sunday.
"I've just been copping it a lot from my family back home, sending me videos on Facebook with me not singing the song properly.
"I'll probably get Sam 'Kas' (Bulldogs teammate Sam Kasiano) to teach me on the way home. I think it's good for my development also – not only on the field – but off the field as well. I guess it's a learning experience for myself."
Teammate David Klemmer acknowledged the 'boys' had let down Faitala-Mariner by not teaching him the words earlier.
He said the onus would be on Josh Morris (the player who leads the song) to guide him through it the next time the blue and whites tasted victory.
"You just follow Josh Morris. Whatever he says goes. It's pretty simple but I think we just left him in the dark a little bit," the Bulldogs enforcer said.
"Poor bugger. We didn't even think about it. We were just happy that we'd won the game. This week we're going to have to pull him in and [teach him] the team song."
While he continues to struggle with nailing the chorus, Faitala-Mariner has no regrets with his move to Sydney.
The former Junior Kiwis representative had been at the Warriors since 2012 where he played Holden Cup, NSW Cup and 12 games in the NRL.
That all got flipped on its head in April when he was involved in a player swap with Bulldogs player Shaun Lane that saw the forwards switch places mid-season.
He admitted that it was a difficult thing to do at the time given how sudden the move was, but said coming to Australia was the best thing for his career – both on and off the field.
"It was pretty hard. I was in New Zealand [and received] I think three or five days' notice before I made the move," he continued.
"It was something that I'd been wanting to do for a while. I guess the opportunity came sooner rather than later so I took it with both hands.
"I'm getting advice from family back home. I saw myself slowly making progress at the Warriors and some wise advisers were saying the best way for me to learn was to step away from home - away from mum and dad – and just to stand on my own two feet."
The former Warrior has taken that advice on board and is currently living in a team house with players from Canterbury's Holden Cup squad.
Apart from the need for lyrical lessons, the 22-year-old has enjoyed his first couple of weeks in Belmore; especially the support shown by his new teammates.
"The boys have been welcoming. I didn't know my opportunity to play NRL would come this soon but I guess there's a belief and confidence and willingness to teach me what they have," he said.
"I can say that the boys here are a lot closer, just by the way they joke around with each other and everything like that.
"I'm not saying that the boys back home are not close but I guess there's a reason why the Bulldogs are called the 'family team' and I felt that straightaway as soon as I came.
"Sam Kas has taken me under his wing and 'Beasty' (Greg Eastwood) has been helping me a lot too.
"Everyone has been offering me rides because I haven't got a car yet. Lucky I just live up the road, but everyone is offering me rides and texting me and going out to lunch and dinner and everything like that."