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Canterbury second-rower Raymond Faitala-Mariner.

A foot injury ended Raymond Faitala-Mariner's season after just two rounds, but due to his community work and faith the Bulldogs forward has remained upbeat.

Faitala-Mariner has used his stint on the sidelines to participate in several charitable initiatives, subsequently being nominated for the Ken Stephen Medal, proudly brought to you by Your Local Club.

"When I got injured and I had a lot of downtime, I was just thinking of things that I was grateful for," the back-rower said.

"And with the Bulldogs as a club, we have a lot of opportunities where we can give back to the community. Whenever the opportunity came up I was keen to put my hand up and to help out where I can.

"Obviously, being injured is the last thing you want as a footy player. But seeing those who are less fortunate, it just put things into perspective for me to know the blessings that I have.

"I'm very grateful that I'm able to do the things that I love, seeing that - for those people who are less fortunate - they're struggling a bit.

"[Being involved in the community] made me feel like I'm one of the lucky ones and just grateful to be alive, really."

The 28-year-old, who also had clean-out ankle surgery during the pre-season, spearheaded Canterbury's contribution to the Addi Road Hampers for Hope Christmas Appeal alongside a team of players and staff, packaging items for in-need households across Sydney.

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And early on Christmas Day, the devout Christian joined teammates and sponsor Arthur Laundy in feeding the homeless. 

"Seeing the number of people that turned up to the barbecue at the hotel that Arthur owns, it just blew me away," he said.

"Seeing my people, the Polynesian people – that got me. There was one man that took me to where he was staying. It was pretty sad, he was living under a tree with a tent by himself on Christmas morning.

"That really hit home. What made it more sad was he was a Samoan man, so we were talking to each other in our language.

"That stood out, seeing my people out on the street here in Sydney ... They were shocked to see us there. To see them smiling was good."

Elsewhere, Faitala-Mariner represented the Bulldogs at a multitude of schools and events like the Lakemba Anzac Day dawn service and a fundraising dinner at St Rita Melkite Catholic Parish.

In anything he does, the Samoa and New Zealand international is inclusive, encouraging and a passionate leader.

"Just making all the kids smile and laugh," Faitala-Mariner said when asked for his favourite aspect of visiting schools.

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"There were some kids who were Parra supporters, Dragons supporters in the Belmore area. It's pretty funny, we get into a bit of competition; I get all the Bulldogs supporters on my side and have a laugh with them ... I'm still a kid myself at heart."

At the core of Faitala-Mariner's willingness to serve others is his religion, which has been an "anchor" amid his injury setbacks.

"I grew up in church and my parents were very Bible-orientated with their upbringing," the former Warrior said.

"With the hope that comes with this faith of being a believer, there's something to hold onto and there is a light at the end of the tunnel."

If Faitala-Mariner was to win the fan vote - which will decide one of four Ken Stephen Medal finalists and closes on August 8 - he will collect a $3500 cash prize for his junior team, the Otahuhu Leopards.

He was ecstatic to learn the funds could go to the club in Auckland, enthusing: "That would mean a lot, they would love it".

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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