THERE are a few similarities between Hull FC’s new signing Bureta Faraimo and his predecessor Mahe Fonua and not just the obvious hulking frame.
For example, the explosive winger, who has arrived after a frustrating time with Parramatta Eels and brief stay at New Zealand Warriors, also has a rather slick nickname, just like the man he hopes to replace.
Whereas hard-running wideman Fonua was hailed as ‘The Beast with The Golden Teeth’ during his prolific two years at KCOM Stadium, Faraimo is known as ‘The Smoking Gun’.
In case you were wondering why, Bureta is pronounced ‘Beretta’.
Faraimo does, in fact, also have a gold tooth but just the one, unlike ex-Melbourne Storm star Fonua who famously had his initials engraved onto two front teeth.
Regardless, what is undoubted is the 27-year-old is certainly looking forward to the chance to shoot down some opponents in Super League and hopefully follow in the footsteps of the popular Tonga international.
“In the last two years he (Fonua) did make a lot of noise,” admitted Faraimo, about the player who won two Challenge Cups, earned two Dream Team places and scored 31 tries in just 58 games before returning to Australia with Wests Tigers for family reasons.
“I’m not going to lie when I say I am pretty nervous when it comes to filling his place! But I do believe I can back myself to do that and if not match it maybe even do better.
“We are similar styles and hopefully things will work out pretty well.
“I didn’t know much about Super League beforehand, to be honest, but it’s something I’ve always thought about coming to try and play.
“It was just perfect timing for me; I wasn’t getting much of a look-in back in the NRL, I got a phone call from (former Hull director of rugby) Motu Tony and everything just worked out.
“And I do feel ready. The opportunity is there for me; it’s the beginning of the season 2018 and I am ready to give it a real good crack. I am here now. The rest is just up to me.”
If New Zealander Faraimo does succeed, it will certainly be a fine advert for persistence.
A late starter in the NRL, he earned a chance with Parramatta Eels after impressing for Queensland Cup side Mackay Cutters and then USA in the 2013 World Cup here in the UK.
However, he struggled to make his mark and was restricted to just 15 NRL appearances over the next three years, admittedly scoring nine tries which highlighted the sort of promise Hull coach Lee Radford thinks is there to be further developed.
Faraimo joined New Zealand Warriors last July but only played reserve grade before making the move to East Yorkshire where he has signed a two-year deal.
In between, he featured in another World Cup – working under Leeds Rhinos head coach Brian McDermott who led the USA team in Australia and Papua New Guinea.
“He was funny; he was a bit of a character that dude,” said Faraimo, about the four-times Grand Final winning coach.
“I loved it. It was a good World Cup campaign. Obviously results didn’t go our way but we had some fun.
“I qualified for the US as my dad is American Samoan, born on a little island called Swains Island.
“It’s pretty tiny. I haven’t been there myself but I’ve heard it’s pretty small.”
He’s right; according to the 2010 census, just 17 people lived on the remote Pacific island.
But what are Wellington-born Faramio’s first impressions of the slightly bigger Hull?
“It’s freezing,” he said, without hesitation.
“It was freezing when I arrived. I got here on December 17th.
“It’s something that’s not new to me to me, though.
“Where I’m from in New Zealand it’s pretty cold. Just not as cold as this.
“The sun goes down early here, too, but since I’ve started training the boys have been really good making my transition easier.
“I’m looking forward to the season now.”
Although Faraimo – who stands at six foot tall and weighs 16 stone – is not set to play in Hull hooker Danny Houghton’s testimonial game against derby rivals Hull KR on Sunday, Radford does expect him to quickly make his mark when Super League begins.
The Ladbrokes Challenge Cup holders start their campaign against Huddersfield Giants on February 1 and the FC coach is looking forward to seeing what his new recruit can achieve for the Black and Whites.
On those similarities to Fonua, Radford conceded: “He’s got the gold teeth, the same tats (tattoos) going on, the same size backside as him and everything.
“He’s the same handful in the gym, too, when it comes to the wrestle.
“They are very similar; he’ll make you 120 metres in a game and get your sets moving forward.
“He probably lacks a little bit to what Mahe did aerially but he gives you fewer errors. He’ll be a great acquisition for Super League.”
Meanwhile, as expected, departing RFL chief executive Nigel Wood has been confirmed as the next chief executive of the Rugby League International Federation.
Wood, who is currently serving as RLIF chairman, will replace David Collier when his contract runs out in May.
“I feel honoured and humbled to be asked to serve the RLIF as CEO for the next phase of its development,” he said.
“International rugby league is a wonderful and essential aspect of our sport as the images, testimonials and emotions of the recent World Cups have once again demonstrated.
“I believe these are exciting times as more and more people recognise the role of international rugby league has in developing the whole sport.
“New countries and investors are attracted to our sport and I look forward to working with all parties, clubs and other key stakeholders to ensure that we give players, supporters and commercial and broadcast partners the most compelling international calendar that we possibly can.”
Wood resigned as chief executive of the RFL last week after 10 years in the post.
He was appointed as Collier’s successor by unanimous decision after impressing in his current role with the RLIF, overseeing a successful World Cup in 2013.
RLIF deputy chairman John Grant said they were delighted to have appointed Wood.