Faraimo was promised a statue
Buretta Faraimo was one of the “Nobodies” unearthed at the 2013 World Cup in England after helping the US team to “shock the world” by beating the Cook Islands and Wales to finish top of their pool and secure an unlikely quarter-final berth against Australia.
"You don’t know me. You’ve never seen me play. You don’t know my name. You don’t even know how to pronounce my name."
Those words from the 2017 Rugby League World Cup advertising campaign could have been inspired by new Warriors recruit Faraimo’s performance for the United States at the last tournament.
He was rewarded with an NRL contract the following season after receiving an unexpected phone call from Parramatta coach Brad Arthur at the end of the tournament and earned a place in the history books as the first US player to score at a Rugby League World Cup.
"I remember at the time someone from the USA team promised me a statue," Faraimo joked. "I’m still waiting - although they would have to make it with a gold tooth now."
After 15 NRL matches for Parramatta, Faraimo's management, Pacific Sports Management, announced on Friday that the NSW Residents representative and leading try scorer in the NSW Cup with 14 tries so far this season had negotiated a deal to join the Warriors before the NRL's June 30 transfer deadline.
"I used the last World Cup (2013) as a foundation to build on coming to Parramatta," Faraimo said. "I came here and I played, and I could see I was gradually improving. [But] there was a time that I can honestly say I was too comfortable and that led to my downfall, and I’m just trying to pick myself back up through the back end of the year and the next World Cup."
Born and raised in New Zealand, Faraimo qualifies for the Hawks as his father is from Swains Island, which is administered by the United States as part of American Samoa.
He moved to Australia to join the Mackay Cutters in 2011 and was approached to play for the USA after a Queensland Cup semi-final against Ipswich Jets, whose chairman Steve Johnson was team manager at the 2013 World Cup.
Of his teammates, only Joseph Paulo, Junior Paulo, Clint Newton, Eddy Pettybourne and Joel Luani were from NRL clubs.
"I went into the American team just the same as everyone else," Faraimo said.
"Pretty much no one had any NRL experience, but were hungry to try and make an NRL team."
"We maybe had two players (Joseph Paulo and Newton) last time who had NRL experience and we looked up to those guys but I was one of the guys trying to make the NRL.”
This time Faraimo will be one of the senior USA players and he is expected to travel to North America with former South Sydney and Penrith centre Junior Vai Vai to represent the Hawks in their upcoming Tests against Jamaica on July 22 and Canada on September 16.
"Coming into this World Cup there will be a lot of other guys like me four years ago who are hungry to make the chance count on the world stage," he said. “A lot of dreams, a lot of goals… using this World Cup as a foundation for the next chapter of their careers.
"It’s a cool experience, being around all guys with all the same goals, same dreams but at the same time just wanting to have fun."
The 26-year-old, who has recently taken up goal kicking, credited the off-field karaoke sessions the US players enjoyed during the last World Cup as one of the reasons for their success.
"Karaoke was our go to. Everyone was having a go," Faraimo said. "It was real good that it lead to a lot of upsets.
"No one gave us any chance and we turned up for each other, which was something we were all proud of. Hopefully we can have that same connection and do it again this year."