Phil Gould
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 18: Former Penrith Panthers General Manager of Football Phil Gould in the mounting yard to watch his horse Jailbreak compete in race 1 during Sydney Racing at Rosehill Gardens on May 18, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

Canterbury Bulldogs director of football Phil Gould has revealed that Raymond Faitala-Mariner was set to play for the club in his return match during magic round, only to be struck down by the flu.

Faitala-Mariner, who has been with the Bulldogs since the start of the 2016 season and has 87 NRL games under his belt, has struggled with injury since the start of last season.

He managed just two games in 2021 after suffering a serious foot injury during Round 2.

His NRL future has hung in the balance virtually ever since, with set back after set back on a road to recovery which has lasted almost 15 months.

It has been reported that medical retirement has been considered as an option for Faitala-Mariner, who has continued to fight to get himself back to full fitness, and according to Gould, that has now happened.

The director of football at the battling Bulldogs, who have won just two of their first nine games in the 2022 season, took to Twitter to suggest Faitala-Mariner would have been selected for magic round in the final 17 had he not picked up a case of the flu.

Gould then went on to confirm that if he recovers, he could be selected for next week, when the Bulldogs will take on the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.

The club may also choose to nurse him back through the NSW Cup, where the Bulldogs are linked with two teams - their own and Mounties. Both teams play next Sunday at 3pm, with the Bulldogs to play the Western Suburbs Magpies and Mounties to play the Newtown Jets. It's unclear which club he is eligible to be picked for.

The 2023 NRL Season is just around the corner and the Zero Tackle Season Guide is back! Get everything you need, from team lists, fixtures, statistics and a profile on every single player in the competition in our 2023 NRL Season Guide. Available now!